Making Of

Making Of
Making Of
Making Of
Making Of
Making Of
Making Of

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How might we envision radical societal norms and social dynamics in the context of sustainability and mortality through speculative design?

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We designed a community that embraces dying as the ultimate contribution to sustainability, and imagine objects, places, and artifacts this society would use.

Context

Speculative Design is a design approach that merges methodologies from futuring, forecasting, and design in order to manifest possible futures for human society and their artifacts.


Inspired by overpopulation theories and the fact that the most developed economies in the world have the lowest birth rates and drastically aging societies, we wondered what new forms of time and social interactions would emerge in a testbed community that radically objects medicine and idolizes death.

Solution

Facing the collapse of the planet’s ecosystem, the Non-Proliferators aim to achieve planetary sustainability in their enclave by naturally reducing the human population. They celebrate aging and dying as a contribution to their purpose and live according to time-cycles with alternating periods of procreation and procreation-bans.


The very few newborns are raised in a drastically aging population, in which family structures change and a new relationship with death is developed. Death is no taboo for the Non-Proliferators. Instead, it is a joyful perspective for them; a celebratory part of their lives considered a contribution to their purpose: increased human sustainability and population reduction.

1

System Insight

Scientific evidence proves that the most developed countries in the world have the lowest birth rates and highest average age in society.

3

Prototype Insight

This daring and provocative, yet aesthetically minimalistic manifestation of a radical society shakes viewer’s perspective on dying and death.

2

Human Insight

Humans rarely consider their mortality when strategizing sustainability, since “defeating death” and “extending life expectancy” is the dominant logic driving modern societies.

Place for Dying

A speculative testing-site for new social concepts

2016-17

with Elena Habre, Valentina Branada Rojas

Client/Partner

Dunne & Raby Design Studio

Topics

Sustainability, Well-Being, End of Life, Commemoration, Ethnography

Approaches

Speculative Design, Design Fiction, Product Design, System Thinking

Output

Product Prototype, System Blueprint, 3D Mock-Up, Video, Exhibit

Project Details

Cycles, Family Structures, and Prototypes

The diagram on the left is a visual representation of the innovative “time-cycles” of alternating procreation and procreation-bans, also indicating how many people in total will remain and how many newborns will be born. With each cycle, the family structure changes, as one child will have an increasing number of parents and grandparents.

© Christian Smirnow, Elena Habre, Valentina Branada Rojas

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The Arnold‘s Arm

Instead of a baby doll, children engage playfully with an old person’s arm. Children get this arm upon birth - it becomes their precious memento that accompanies them until they reach adulthood. The Arnold’s Arm evokes gestures of care and affection for the elderly with its ergonomic design.

© Christian Smirnow, Elena Habre, Valentina Branada Rojas

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The Arnold‘s Arm: Detail

The Non-Proliferators utilize the concept of play to familiarize children with a drastically aging society. It is made of different materials that imitate the touch of an old person’s skin and bones. At the end of the cycle, children eventually let go of their Arnold’s Arm.

© Christian Smirnow, Elena Habre, Valentina Branada Rojas

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Syndicate Families

As less and less children will be part of the Non-Proliferators’ Community, each child will have an increasing number of parents. In this image, a child points out which pair of parents they would like to spend their time with for the next days.

© Christian Smirnow, Elena Habre, Valentina Branada Rojas

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Birth Certificate

Blood and genetic material are not relevant to being a recognized parent for the Non-Proliferators. This birth certificate and co-parenting agreement is signed by all 20 parents of the child named Meredith.

© Christian Smirnow, Elena Habre, Valentina Branada Rojas

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Child Photo Album

This physical foto album shows meredith playing with her Arnold’s Arm. This memory artifact will be multiplied by the number of 20 parents, and each parent will receive one copy.

© Christian Smirnow, Elena Habre, Valentina Branada Rojas

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Playgrave: Community Space

The Playgrave a playground-graveyard merger, a recreational public space for all generations, that shifts the perception of death from sacred and secluded to joyful and tangible. A circular arrangement of tombstones form a community space for celebratory activities on behalf of the dying individuals.

© Christian Smirnow, Elena Habre, Valentina Branada Rojas

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Playgrave: Bench-Graves

Similar to communities in some south american cultures, the Non-Proliferators use gravestones are as benches and places to rest. The opposing position of the stones triggers conversation between bench neighbors.

© Christian Smirnow, Elena Habre, Valentina Branada Rojas

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Playgrave: Meeting Tombs

Stairs and a slide for children lead into the subterranean underground family tombs, which serve as meeting spaces for contemplation and to discuss family business.

© Christian Smirnow, Elena Habre, Valentina Branada Rojas

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Contact

Christian Smirnow

Torstr. 24

10119 Berlin, Germany

smirnowstudios@gmail.com

Impressum DE

Imprint EN

© 2020 Christian Smirnow

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