The way to natural design: learning to see and confront the bigger design questions

Seaton Baxter

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    This paper explains part of the historical development of the concept of 'natural design' and is a follow on to 'Deep Design and the Engineer's Conscience'. It argues that most of design education unfairly and unimaginatively limits its role to anthropocentric studies. It provides several reasons why design education should, at the very least, incorporate a small portion of studies of a zoocentric nature on the way to eventually adopting a full eco-centric or natural design approach. The paper discusses 3 examples which transgress the limits of anthropocentric design yet also enhance our biological/cultural status as human beings. One example discusses metabolism and thermoregulation in the domestic pig. (see Baxter, S. (1984) Intensive Pig Production: Environmental Management & Design; and English, P.R. Fowler, V.R. Baxter, S. & Smith, B. (1988 & 1996). (The Growing & Finishing Pig) and indicates how a detailed understanding of these processes is fundamental to economic efficiency and the design of artifacts and buildings which support this. It comments on the appropriateness of this understanding to hypo & hyperthermic conditions in humans. A second example considers the visual thinking skills of Dr Temple Grandin who is autistic but also a world authority on the design of animal handling facilities. It questions whether 'design' might find interesting explanations for its methods in studies of autistic practitioners. Finally an example is presented of a project to stimulate imagination through the conception of 'nature's imagination' and its application to fictitious although evolutionarily possible animal species. The paper concludes with 7 good reasons for incorporating zoocentricity into the design curriculum. Evidence: Published conference proceedings containing paper


    ConferenceEnhancing Curricula: Contributing to the Future, Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century in the Disciplines of Art, Design and Communication, CLTAD Centre for Learning and Teaching Art and Design. 3rd International Conference
    Abbreviated titleCLTAD 2006


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