Wava Carpenter and Anna Carnick share their thoughts on the theme of this year's Design Miami/
As Design Miami/ 2021 opens in Miami Beach, Curatorial Director Wava Carpenter and Editor-in-Chief Anna Carnick share their thoughts on this year’s theme, Human·Kind.
Human·Kind is conceived as a call to action—starting where you are, where you can—to improve conditions around the world, guided by new posthuman design thinking and our most humane impulses.
Posthuman ethics arose decades ago, spurred by the anticipation of profound technological advances (such as AI), as well as by the realization that our species is threatened by cataclysmic environmental devastation of our own making. At its foundation, posthumanism seeks to level the traditional, destructive hierarchies that value humans over nature and non-human beings in order to secure a better future.
In recent years, amid renewed cries for social justice, posthuman approaches have expanded to embrace the leveling of the traditional hierarchies *among* humans as well, recognizing the perspectives of people(s) who have long been denied access to the full slate of human rights and privileges.
The posthuman goal now is to see the world as a multidimensional network of beings entangled with other beings, and to care for all as we care for ourselves. A more familiar way of articulating the new posthumanism may be simply to evoke the age-old notions of empathy, compassion, and collaboration as a promising pathway toward positive transformation—inclusive of BIPOC and LGBTQ communities, developing nations, women, displaced populations, disabled bodies, creatures great and small, and the planet as a whole.
The practice of design, at its heart, has always aimed to create a better future. But as the global challenges that humanity faces have approached existential proportions, the future that designers envision increasingly demands a fundamental reorientation of what it means to be human in this world. As an antidote to our most pressing environmental and social problems, today’s leading-edge design thinking strives to empower traditionally overlooked perspectives while expanding the scope of valued narratives.
As a final thought, this proposition is not an appeal for lone-actors who want to impose solutions on others from a distance. It rather asks those who can to listen harder while striving for change, to engage more broadly for the betterment of humankind and beyond. ◆
Design Miami/ opens to the public December 1, 2021. Watch this space for more information about the show’s live and virtual programming exploring the theme Human·Kind.