In June, I remotely attended the PhD defence of Emīlija Veselova at the Aalto University Department of Design, where she presented her research about nature as a stakeholder in design processes, more specifically the “more-than-human design approach”. The topic fascinates me, both from my general interest in entities affected by design that are not considered in the process (though, granted, most of my own focus has always been on human non-users, and as it had never crossed my mind to not only integrate sustainability considerations into design (there’s quite a movement on that) but to specifically give them a voice as one stakeholder among others:
‘There are no easy solutions to making this shift happen in the design field. In fact, I find many attempts to include nature in design quite naïve. The thinking seems to prevail that if we include nature or nonhuman stakeholders in our research or design, it automatically makes it not non-anthropocentric, automatically contributes to sustainability, and makes it good. But I don’t think this is true.
Overall, I strive to expand the understanding within design research and education on who or what can be stakeholders, highlighting that it is not just humans or organizations. I was missing this perspective when I was learning design – both in the practical courses and the readings we had – so I want to lift this perspective.
The full text of the dissertation is openly available from the Aaltodoc library.
Just recently, I shared this article dealing with the very same questions.