Back to overview Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Somatechnics
Volume (Issue) 10(3)
Page(s) 355 - 373
Title of proceedings Somatechnics
DOI 10.3366/soma.2020.0327


The article proposes an empirical and discursive understanding of design as engaging and intensifying uneven power relations. By affiliating with the ontological turn in anthropology, such re-defined reading of design acknowledges design's complicity with extractive capitalism while aiming to open up possibilities to think design otherwise. In recent years, inspired by the resurgence of materialism, abstract notions of design as mediating practice between human and environment have gained popularity. Yet, these more-than-human-centred design theories tend to obscure the material and immaterial infrastructures that still shape human and nonhuman realities. By utilising the example of sand's transformation into land and tracing its journey across sites, actors and continents, the infrastructures of planetary transformation – as well as what eludes them – are investigated. Turning matter into medium emphasises thresholds and ruptures in the human-material relationship and thus transcends both a socially constructed and material reading of reality. Through a historical and empirical relocation of the current more-than-human-centred design discourse, the research presented in this article aims to support the establishment of a critical anthropology of design.