Material Cultures for Interspecies Cohabitations

The project Material Cultures for Interspecies Cohabitations is being developed (2023-2026) as a research collaboration led by designer Martín Ávila with ecologist Erik Andersson and ecosemiotician Nelly Mäekivi. The project is design-driven and grounded on ecosemiotic theory that is considerate of meaning-making by humans and other species and attends to various modes of perceiving and enacting (Umwelten) in multiple environments, particularly those environments most affected by the presence of humans such as urban ecosystems.

Biodiversity loss reduces the range of meaningful contacts with other animal species and flora, impoverishing affective ecologies on which we depend upon to enact life-affirming cultures. Challenging this and attending to reconfiguring relations to liminal and wild species (in contradistinction to domestic animals) artefacts are designed for humans to relate in less anthropocentric ways with a variety of animals and plants.

The work addresses alternative scales, and specific species such as the Eurasian jay, an important seed disperser which combines habitats and connects wood forests with wetlands, and, on the other hand amphibians such as newts, sensitive and in need of different resources, indicator species characteristic for tensions of cohabitation in complementary ecologies.