The first part of this talk presents a research-creation project that took the form of an interactive exhibition named « DNA-The Future Life of Objects ». Based on the metaphor of a scientific research lab, the exposition presents a manifesto linking the world of objects to the world of life forms, hence the reference to DNA. While establishing a parallel between the system of objects and the world of living organisms, this manifesto poses a critical perspective concerning our relation with objects and raises fundamental questions about the notions of durability, environmental degradation, overconsumption and emotional attachment; it also anticipates the potential repercussion of connected objects and artificial intelligence on our private lives.
In the second part of the presentation, the author looks at the impacts and challenges of applying the principles of the DNA manifesto to design education. If Nature becomes the prevailing model to follow, design education needs to integrate with a much more acute perspective the fundamental principles of biology - the “science of life”, and to focus the foundation of the design thinking process towards biomimicry. Recent explorations show that such a shift causes major impacts and ethical challenges at many levels for design curricula.
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Martin Racine is Graduate Program Director and Professor in the Department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University. Trained as an Industrial Designer in Montreal (Université de Montréal) and Paris (École nationale supérieure de création industrielle), Martin Racine was a consultant in a professional firm before establishing his own freelance practice, collaborating with different designers and architects. His experience covers furniture design, product and exhibition design.
His research interests include 3D design, ecological design and design history and epistemology. He has published many articles in those fields and in 2016, he published a book covering the role of designer Julien Hébert (1917-1994) in the emergence of the design discipline in Quebec and Canada. Since the early 2000’s, he initiated a collaborative research-creation practice that focuses on the development of innovative strategies for sustainable design. He explored approaches involving design for disassembly and use of 3D printing as a way to extend the life of objects. In the Meta-Morphose project, his team integrated the principles on biomimicry, exploring the idea that objects could change, adapt and evolve through time, like the fascinating metamorphose model found in nature, where we find caterpillars transform into butterflies. In the Metacycle project, he integrated the idea of participatory design and crowdsourcing to codesign a second life to discarded or outdated objects. More recently, a project entitled DNA-The Future Life of Objects pushed the idea of biomimicry further, suggesting that every object could integrate a form of DNA, a speculative approach suggesting that sustainable objects would be integrated in the natural world.