Claudia speaks to Michelle Westerlaken about the concept of Re-Design and how design can be used to generate multispecies worlds and opportunities. They discuss Michelle’s background in design with and for animals, how she finds theory incredibly important for design processes, and the ways in which trying to create positive urban design might generate new multispecies opportunities.
Date recorded: 26 April 2021
Michelle Westerlaken is a Research Associate on the Smart Forests project in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge. She has a PhD in Interaction Design from Malmö University in Sweden where she did her dissertation on “Imagining Multispecies Worlds” in which presented 10 protagonist species and stories in a Multispecies Bestiary to illustrate a repertoire of world-making practices. As a designer, Michelle works with participatory methods that examine possibilities for humans and other species to propose interaction modalities for multispecies ways of living on this planet. So far, these projects have involved design negotiations together with cats, dogs, ants, and penguins, and various interactive technologies. Central to her work are the ways in which theory and participatory research practices continuously inform and inspire each other. Connect with Michelle on Twitter (@colombinary) or via email and find out more about the smart forests project at www.smartforests.net
It Matters What Designs Design Designs: Speculations on Multispecies Worlds (Video); Imagining Multispecies Worlds by Michelle Westerlaken; Designs for the Pluriverseby Arturo Escobar; When Species Meet by Donna Haraway; The Mushroom at the End of the World by Anna Tsing; The Carrier Bag of Theory of Fiction by Ursula K. Le Guin; What would animals say if we asked the right questions by Vinciane Despret