What if our everyday artefacts were alive: could sense, grow, adapt, and eventually die? How would we live with them? How would we experience and attend to their livingness? *
Livingness has long been a literal element in design by inserting instances of nature or natural patterns into artefacts, as like in biophilic design. Hence, many designers purposefully designed for connectivity with nature through living elements like plants and trees. Livingness has also been a resource for inspiration in design for creating alive-like expressions emulating structures and behaviours of living organisms. Alive-like expressions have been achieved through dynamic, kinetic, and responsive features, often by integrating electronic components and actuators.
But what if designers took a more extreme stance on Biophilic design? Instead of inserting living elements into artefacts as we know them, why not collaborate with living things as the building blocks for novel artefacts that synthesise the artificial and biological? In 2020, Prof. dr. Elvin Karana and her colleagues from Delft University of Technology introduced the notion of Living Artefacts where livingness is understood as a biological, ecological, and experiential phenomenon**. As leading professor of the Caradt Biobased Art and Design Group Dr. Karana proposed Living Artifacts as this years theme for Studium Generale. We delve into the notion of Living Artefacts, and we discuss the broader implications of livingness and different life forms for the futures of art and design, and for the design of living artefacts.
* Karana, E. (2020). Still Alive: Livingness as a material quality in design Breda: Avans University of Applied Sciences. ISBN: 978-90-76861-61-6
** Karana, E., Barati, B., & Giaccardi, E. (2020). Living artefacts: Conceptualizing livingness as a material quality in everyday artefacts. International Journal of Design, 14(3), 37-53.