An Ecology of Design: From the Natural, through the Artificial, to the Un-Natural
Ecology as a metaphor was picked up by the discipline of Design in the late 80’s with theorists such as Branzi, Manzini and Krippendorff’s exploration of ‘the ecology of the artificial’. This ecological metaphor played an important part in aiding the re-assessment of Design’s role in line with social and environmental issues. As evident in the Munich Design Charter of 1990, an ecological model was used to initiate a debate into the fundamental role Design has to play in developing our future. However, in the ensuing decade and a half, understanding of ecosystem functioning has changed considerably. This paper aims to re-visit the ecological metaphor, to see if a contemporary interpretation of current ecological theory is still useful in understanding the nature of Design’s interdisciplinary activities in the artificial world. The paper will start by outlining a brief evolution of ecological theory and what it has come to mean today. Then will go on to apply this contemporary notion of ecology to the artificial world. Concluding by suggesting how this contemporary ecological metaphor might inform the nature of design as an integrative interdisciplinary field.
Keywords: Design Theory, Ecological Metaphor, The Ecology of the Artificial, Interdisciplinary Design
Viveka Turnbull Hocking
PhD Candidate, Fenner School of Environment and Society