Critical Futures in Ethnography and Design: More than Human

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An EPIC Talk with LAURA FORLANO, Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology

26 October 2018, 11:00am–12:30pm Pacific Time
Free online event, pre-registration & EPIC Membership required


Since at least the mid-1980s, design has been dominated by a human-centered and user-centered paradigm. Currently, the implications of technological and environmental transformations are challenging designers to focus on complex socio-technical systems. This talk traces emergent discussions around posthumanism from across a range of disciplines and perspectives, and considers examples from emerging design practices that emphasize the interrelations between human and nonhuman actors. Finally, this talk presents critiques of posthumanism to consider how emergent design perspectives might better support values such as equality and justice for humans and nonhumans that have been traditionally ignored in design processes.


Laura Forlano, a Fulbright award-winning and National Science Foundation funded scholar, is a writer, social scientist and design researcher. She is an Associate Professor of Design at the Institute of Design and Affiliated Faculty in the College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology where she is Director of the Critical Futures Lab. Forlano’s research is focused on the aesthetics and politics at the intersection between design and emerging technologies. Over the past ten years, she has studied the materialities and futures of socio-technical systems such as autonomous vehicles and smart cities; 3D printing, local manufacturing and innovation ecosystems; automation, distributed labor practices and the future of work; and, computational fashion, smart textiles and wearable medical technologies. Forlano is co-editor with Marcus Foth, Christine Satchell and Martin Gibbs of From Social Butterfly to Engaged Citizen (MIT Press 2011). She received her Ph.D. in communications from Columbia University.