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(Archive) It's in our Nature

reflecting on the balance between human and nature

This project was part of DDW 2021
Powers of Ten — © Eames Office

It’s in our Nature is about the relationship between human and nature. Zooming in to microscopic scale, questioning the ethics of designing with living materials. On the other hand zooming out to the systems that determine our relationship with nature. Can we design to be one with nature?

We are one?

Since prehistoric times, humankind has worked with nature on everything. We grow our food, build our houses, extract materials for our products and energy. Over the centuries, people have increasingly tried to control, manipulate, and dominate nature. Humanity treats nature as a factory that can be managed, adjusted, and conditioned according to need. Because of our constant craving for more – more stuff, more revenue – the relationship between people and nature has been severely disrupted. The relationship is now one in which we have transcended nature, in which we have forgotten that we are one with nature.

Zooming in

Circling us are worrying predictions and figures about the environment and climate. Which makes it sometimes difficult to stay optimistic. But what's foremost natural to us humans is solving problems and making new things. And designers do this hand in hand with nature.

Designers develop new skills and team up with scientists and industry to invent biomaterials, recycle waste streams and shape and colour with organic or even living materials. Much needed sustainable solutions allowing us to shift away from petroleum-based systems. Yet, what are the ethics into play when designing with living, non-human organisms? Is this new form of domesticating in place, when it helps us become more sustainable?

Zooming out

Taking a step back, we look at the bigger picture. ‘The nature of the beast', our nature as human beings. In the end, the man-made systems in place determine our relation to nature. Can we align our drive for progress with the nature around us? What is the influence of human concepts like religion, landscape maintenance and policy on nature? How should we deal with the makability of nature and that of life itself, now we’re at the birth of synthetic biologie?


It's in our Nature reflections on these questions in works by Kuang-Yi Ku, Yu-Chun Lo and Zong-Yuan Tien | Emma van der Leest | Studio Nienke Hoogvliet | Krzysztof Wronski | Katie Baselj | Lux Nautilus | Mies Loogman x Rathenau Institute | Baltan Laboratories x Mediamatic | Mark Wang | Daniëlle Ooms | Loes Voermans | Fillip Studios x OMLAB | Studio Ilfa Siebenhaar | Living Colour | Teresa van Dongen.