This is a research site belonging to me, Kristina Borjesson, and dedicated to the designed object and its contribution to a holistic sustainable development. Sustainable development has developed into something of a buzz-word and its meaning has consequently become obscured. The word 'holistic' , which should serve as a reminder that sustainability depends on coordinated transdisciplinary actions, has become part of the buzz. I focused initially on the designed object but as a result of continued research it has become evident to enlarge the scope to include the 'designed environment', which is made up of a number of artefacts imposing themselves on nature, for better or for worse. What is for the benefit of humans long term is of course sustainable. A sustainable development would thus mean a human development and design and architecture ought consequently to focus more on design, body and mind.
The aim of this site is to present and discuss my research and related issues, starting with my vision and further developing the focus, Affective Sustainability, of my PhD thesis (2006) from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, The University of the Arts London (UAL). Different research papers as well as other relevant documents will from time to time also be available here.
There are useful lists of references to be found in papers and articles under the heading 'Recently published papers' and - of course - in my thesis.
This site is one way for me to share my knowledge and experience, to start dialogues and to avoid that my thesis is gathering dust on a bookshelf. I hope you will find it interesting and I look forward to comments and dialogues.
What have I been up to since March 2010?
In spring I was part of the planning of the project Connecting Stockholm - an exhibition at the Museum of Architecture in Stockholm in September. The exhibition was created whilst exhibited by 'the human beings' making up Urban Nouveau, a group of young international architects with a vision: humanizing the built and planned environment. Connecting Stockholm explored the implementation of a new urban strategy for the Swedish capital: how to create a whole of the city and its surbubs which would allow a multidirectional flow instead of the current one-directional: all routes lead to the city center - and that is all! Read more on www.urbannoveau.com
During the entire period, I have explored the mutual interests of anthropology, design and architecture together with Inculture, a company specialised in applied anthropology. You will find one of the results under 006 Recently Published Papers.
The 2011 edition of Designboost took place in Stockholm in February 2011: Design beyond Design. For the first time, one of the Boost days was designated to Media, which gave rise to new approches in discussions on scene and in pauses: do we spread knowledge - or do we merely create wishful identities and new communities? More on www.designboost.se The Boost year for Design Beyond Design will see a Miniboost in Eindhoven October 28 and another in San Fransisco November 7, before coming to an end.
I have continued to be part of Clear Village's think team. In March 2011 we created Dynamic Dialogues for the city of Helsingborg in Sweden: workshops inviting people from the city, of varying ages and representing different activities. A majority of the inhabitants had in an investigation declared that they did not feel invited to the cultural events on offer, paid for by their tax money! Dynamic Dialogues will be continued this forthcoming November, read more on www.clear-village.org
Finally, my book is now under writing!! Read more under Vision continued and Update: My Future Research.
18 October 2011
"Making Matters Matter to Man"
It is now 19 months since I last reviewed my vision, see below. These months have seen little writing but much thinking and doing, se further under 008 What is new?
My vision has not changed but rather been confirmed. The world of design has got its new buzz word: Design Thinking. This is not primarily 'thinking for design' but applying the thinking used by designers in other problem solving processes which do not concern the design of objects and buildings. Design Thinking is about applying a human approach: Firstly: what conditions fairly basic human behaviour and acts and how they are performed. Secondly: how shall we develop technology to meet these human requirements (instead of trying to adjust humans to technological innovations and create new 'needs')? Design Thinking offers gains for humans as well as for business: more successful product development and efficient use of technology and technological research. Negatives? Design Thinking might risk being applied as a method, which in the end will give shallow results. Thinking is always based on knowing and searching for knowledge. And the most successful thinking in design is based on natural logic or lived experience, what many of us would call intuition. But to apply it we must know what it is all about and where we can learn more about it. One little talked about aspect of design thinking, at its best, is that it often preconditions durability beyond the material: what is not approriate for humans will be like any other fashion item: shortlived!
To be continued in my forthcoming book: "Making Matters Matter to Man", to be published by Arvinius, Stockholm 2012.
(9 March 2010) I have critically read the vision, I expressed here two and a half years ago, see below.
It is with certain pleasure, I state that I can still stand up for what I then wrote: a design view which not merely theoretically but in its application fuses body and mind. Moreover, the differentiation between human ways of being, the fairly stable, basic principles ruling our life, and human ways of living, the changing cultural principles influencing our life, still seems as relevant as when I first developed these notions.
The irrelevance of Cartesian dualism appears increasingly obvious as neuroscience continues to inform us about the function of our brain, not least the influence of the non-conscious, the limits of rational thinking and the sense of what we are used to call nonsense. This could be re-written non-sense: not the result of conscious, rational thinking but of non-conscious cognition based on experience.
Is this a return to pure phenomenology in a philosophical sense? As I wrote already in my revised presentation, the biggest threat to human [sustainable] development is when the aim for 'pure knowledge' and rigid borders between disciplines create obstacles for a holistic view. Neuroscience is unlikely to make phenomenology obsolete or diminish its importance: on the contrary, a dialogue between these disciplines have a chance to enhance understanding of humans and human behaviour.
The academic divide today goes principally between those who insist that we control the brain and those who imply that the brain also controls us.
Which relevance has my arguements then for design and designers?
Basically: if designers [or architects, or urban planners ..] believe that humans are predominantly rational, cultural creatures in charge of their choices and actions, the will execute their profession in a way, which has much too little bearing in reality.
Anthropology has as a result started to be re-valued as a planning instrument in as diverse areas as urban planning and branding. We humans do not/cannot express what we are not conscious about but we act it. We cannot describe an object or an environment we would want to keep and sustain, but we react and act when we are faced with something which raises emotions. These could be fast passing but if a person continues to talk about his/her encounter, the emotion has turned into a feeling, which migh in turn cause a deeper affection. Affections do not easily go away.
I promised you an update concerning the goal for my future research: the Handbook.
(October 2011) This book is now under writing: "Making Matters Matter to Man". My research has opened a number of new 'doors' through which I have entered and found more knowledge and experience to add to the conclusions I have continouosly made since I finished my thesis. The book will be truly multi-disciplinary and also include conversations on relevant themes, involving professionals and researchers from a number of different fields. The issue of man and matters, belonging and belongings will also be informed by anthropological insights. My intention is to invite everybody contributing to the book to eventually be part of a community, which with time will include several professionals sharing the same visions and urge to build knowledge and thus create instruments which allows the visions to be realised.
(March 2010) I am currently refining the thinking behind a 'Human and Cultural Platform', a guide to be used in early planning stages of design as well as architectural projects to (one) map the current situation and (two) allocate the right improvements/development in the right places to create not merely a new but a better 'map'. The platform is inspired by Heidegger's notion of dwelling, which I refer to as the creation of meaning of living and being. Meaning is created by regard to authenticity [which here includes culture]: association, recognition, understanding and expectation. Not only do we live in a built and planned enviroment, we are also surrounded by objects. If these variables do not function together with each other and with the humans depending on them, there exists no condition for dwelling.
In this context I am currently exploring the writings of the Finnish architect Juhani Pallasamaa: 'The Eyes of the Skin' and 'The Thinking Hand'. His arguments against the unequal treatment of the senses in design and architecture are important: we have five senses which all function together, but design and architecture have long been focusing merely the eye. Only when all the senses are considered and as a result touched, will an artefact have a chance of a long life.
Furthermore, his notion of 'Mental Ecology' is worth taking into consideration as an interesting complement to my own notion of 'Affective Sustainability'.
a foundation aiming at building a knowledge base concerning durable human living conditions and putting it to practical use in planning projects anywhere in the world.
Anywhere implies lobbing through different bodies and professional events but also hands-on involvement in real life projects.
I am since the beginning of this year a member of Clear Village's supporting Think Team. It is going to be an interesting journey, which I look very much forward to.
Read more: www.clear-village.org
Besides my research, I see a wide field of practical application oportunities for the knowledge and experience I have gathered and developed.
Having spent most of my professional life outside academia, it feels very obvious to take a step back into the world of businesses and organisations as a consultant.
Read my presentation:
Meaning: Making sense also of non-sense.
Position paper presented at CEPHAD: The Borderland between Philosophy and Design Research, in Copenhagen, 26-29 January, 2010.
Sustainable revitalisation of places.
How to avoid regeneration resulting in degeneration.
Paper presented at the International Symposium: Revitalising Built Environments. Requalifying Old Places for New Uses arranged by iaps, CSBE Housing networks in Istanbul 12-16 October 2009.
Co-author: Viktoria Walldin, White Architects, Stockholm.
Design for Life.
The 3rd main Designboost event; Design for Life, took place in Malmö 14 -16 october 2009.
The adjoining Boost Show continued in 'The Sustainable Hub' in Malmö's West Habour until 15 November.
Designboost has dedicated this 'boost' year up to October 2010 to a variety of questions of major concern for a better quality of life. The central idea of 'sharing design knowledge' is based on a firm belief that to share is to raise consciousness and to combine existing knowledge for new insights.
An One-day Desingboost is taking place in Stockholm, Arkitekturmuseum, 12 February. The invited audience has a more clear emphasis on practising designers and architects, whilst the October event saw a more mixed audience of design professionals, academics, students, politicians, media and business people.
I made a Boost Talk at the October event together with Katharina Graffman, PhD in Anthropology and founder of Inculture. We also wrote an article for the Designboost Magazine on the Talk theme: Design against More is Design for Life.
To the same magazine, I further contributed with a short article reflecting on Quality.