“A sympoietic ocean: Design research with/in the marine holobiont” presented by Weber


Session Title:

  • Ecosystems – Climate Change (short papers)

Presentation Title:

  • A sympoietic ocean: Design research with/in the marine holobiont

Presentation Subtheme:

  • Symbiotic Organizations




  • In the light of profound human impact on planetary systems, the global ocean, as a main source of life, is fundamentally transforming its interactions, flows and ecologies. These critical changes raise questions of other-than-human cohabitation on Earth, beyond the terrestrial ground also below sea level. In response to these radical ecological struggles, the design discipline seeks to reorganize its methodologies towards forms of multispecies collaboration with/in environments of anthropogenic change. In this paper, I argue for activating the evolutionary theory of Symbiogenesis, disseminated by biologist Lynn Margulis, based on the preliminary work of Mereschkowsky and Kozo-Polyansky. I am highlighting, how Symbiogenesis can serve as a point of departure for challenging and reinventing our disciplinary protocols in design. The ocean, as a prototypical space for symbiotic system relations serves as my experimental contact zone for shaping these multispecies encounters. Alongside a young generation of designers, the presented design research seeks to evade an extractivist mode of production in favor of developing process-oriented methodologies for interspecies design. A design research practice in underwater environments, together with sponges, algae, electrical circuits, marine biologists, fishes, cameras, limestone, polyps et al., gives rise to a new design strategy, which I suggest naming Sympoïetic Design.