An exploration of contemporary design boundaries

In the 1953 science fiction novel, “More than Human,” Theodore Sturgeon narrates the story of six people with extraordinary powers who come together to form a new form of consciousness, ultimately reaching a new stage of human evolution. While the powers described in the novel are a product of fiction, several researchers, educators and activists today agree that the anthropocentric perspective of society has limits and remains unable of recognizing the inequalities and injustices that human privilege enables and justifies over all that is not human. 

This opens up for a space of critical reflection and the imagination of infinite possibilities where the intersectionality of what is deemed different, the hybridization of human and non-human, and the level of intimacy achieved with technology define new social paradigms, new ways of living and thinking. However, this perspective could also create new dualisms, forms of human privilege and difference for what remains outside the human sphere, and further exclusion for those who have traditionally been kept on the margins.

We believe it is necessary to reactivate collective curiosity and broaden our cognitive and cultural boundaries to reflect on the relationship between humans, non-human living beings and technology, through the perspective of those who are potential designers of objects, spaces, services, experiences, processes, interactions…more-than-human. 

More-than-human(ity) encourages to reflect on these themes through a series of four public appointments that follow an imaginary journey through time:

We starts from what is already manifesting in the design world today, through new speculative design approaches that are functional in addressing increasingly fluid, controversial, complex scenarios.
It explores some concrete projects that demonstrate how in the near future the connection between design and emergin fields of study or technologies can support a novel approach to reality, in which what is non-human could acquire the ability to speak human language.
It reflects on what we can only imagine for the moment, but may have a great impact on design as we know it today, through a dialogue with some visionary protagonists of the contemporary debate.
It addresses scenarios far from today through the immersion in filmic worlds that some have already been able to imagine, where the boundary between human and non-human becomes increasingly blurred and with potential design outcomes shifting between utopia and dystopia.


Some parts of the program may be subject to change.
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Event #1 – NOW

Expanding possibilities with speculative design

with Anab Jain | Co-founder & Director at Superflux

16 March 2023, 4pm – online event
curated by the Specializing Master in Service Design of – Politecnico di Milano

The polycrisis we are living through presents challenges that are complex and unprecedented. These novel challenges cannot be addressed with the siloed, rationalist mindset that the industrialised world has become accustomed to. This is the space that Speculative Design and many other similar practices (Radical Design, Critical Design, Discursive Design, Design Fiction and more) have long been occupying. In this event, Anab Jain will lead us into her understanding of speculative design through her experience at Superflux, sharing a design approach that does not consist of a particular method or toolkit, but rather a design practice grounded in a poor pedagogy, that of exposing ourselves and taking us out into the world.

Paid online event in English.
Registration required on Service Design Masterclasses.

Event #2 – NEAR

Exploring the circularity city across human and non-human worlds

4 April 2023, 6pm – Off Campus Nolo
curated by Patrizia Bolzan, Laura Cipriani, Francesco Leoni

The human food system is making the planet and people sick, and urban food systems, in particular, are affected by complex socio-economic challenges, such as food and nutrition insecurity. The design is addressing these challenges with a circular, participatory and systemic approach that takes into account not only the “human” needs of people but also the “non-human” needs of the planet. In addressing this challenge, designers are designing to engage, inform and empower public and private actors, third sector and citizens to become the primary agents for change. Come find out how at Off Campus NoLo, where Open Polifactory staff will curate a research projects showcase to open a public and concrete dialogue about a more-than-human design approach to urban circularity.

Free in-person event in Italian.
Registration required on Eventbrite.

Event #3 – NEW

Envisioning futures between utopia and dystopia

25 May 2023 – Polifactory
curated by Francesca Foglieni, Luca Grosso

When we think of new technologies and the impact they can generate on our daily lives, imagination too often easily bring us into a dystopian sci-fi movie scenario. During this event, we will find ourselves involved in such types of scenarios, thanks to short selected movies that depict possible futures defined by a blurred boundary between humanity and technology. After the movies, we will reflect on the transformation of the design profession in a more-than-human scenario.

Free in-person event in Italian.
Registration required on Eventbrite.

Event #4 – NEXT

Trajectories for a more-than-human revolution

11 am – 1 pm, 29th May 2023 – Polifactory
curated by Martina Carraro, Bryan Sabin

Trajectories for a more-than-human revolution is an arena for critical discussion that explores the concept of the more-than-human and related large-scale transformations involving protagonists from different disciplinary and practice fields.

The event will start with an introductory speech by Leonardo Caffo, Curator, Writer, Creative Director and Researcher, exploring the contemporary posthuman as described in the book “Fragile Umanità. Il Postumano Contemporaneo”. It will be followed by a panel discussion involving Manuela Celi, Associate Professor and Carla Sedini, Assistant Professor of the Department of Design, Politecnico di Milano.

The closing part is dedicated to an open discussion between the audience and the panelists, followed by a networking aperitivo.

Free in-person event in English.
Registration required on Eventbrite.