Towards More-Than-Human-Centred Design: Learning from Gardening

More-than-human-centred design is a growing field in HCI (human-computer interaction) that account for non-human actors in design processes (such as animals, plants, and microbes but also autonomous technologies). While the rationale for more-than-human-centred design is clear, there is a lack of design methods grounded in this thinking. We articulate the idea of noticing as a method for approaching design spaces as systems of mutual interdependence between organisms. The findings are based on a longitudinal ethnographic study of urban farming—including the study of urban farmers’ practices and use of technologies with a focus on the interplay between humans and non-humans, such as plants and microbes. We articulate noticing as a phenomenon and show examples of urban farmers’ practices of noticing. We discuss principles for designing with the interdependencies of several organisms based on what is noticed in a setting. We argue that the way we have separated ideas about the environment and human experience is a part of the sustainability problem—and suggest noticing as an approach that instead combines positive human experiences and the needs of the environment.

by Anton Poikolainen Rosén, Maria Normark, and Mikael Wiberg
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