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Ecological Design Thinking

Thinking Like A Tree

A campaign to help human beings better connect to nature and start thinking more holistically about their relationship with other beings.

Ecological design thinking

Thinking Like A Tree

ECOLOGICAL DESIGN THINKING

Thinking Like A Tree​

A campaign to help human beings better connect to nature and start thinking more holistically about their relationship with other beings. 

To ‘Think Like A Tree’ is an explorative activity to better understand the way trees exist alongside other beings, support symbiotic relationships, and how as humans we can experience and learn from them.

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Trees

Mission

Human beings are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature. How might humans reconnect with local green spaces?

Awards

The Process

The Jellyfish Design Process

Double diamonds, RIDL, messy squiggles. Few design processes seem to capture the free flowing nature of creative exploration.

This project went on a wonderful journey of creative endeavour, exploring multiple mediums, challenging design conventions and questioning the way designers respond to design briefs.

Similar to the life of a jellyfish, this design process is made up of investigation, exploration and resurgence. 

 

Investigation

Why Are Humans Disconnected?

In response to the deep disconnection outlined by RSPB in the State of Nature report, I investigated several limiting factors that prevent humans from connecting with local green spaces.

“No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”
David Attenborough
Broadcaster, Historian & Author
"By expurgating nature from children's lives we are depriving the environment of its champions for the future.”
Isabella Tree
Author & Journalist
"The fate of the earth depends on a return to our senses. Only a culture that disdains and dismisses the senses could neglect the living land as thoroughly as our culture does."
David Abram
Ecologist & Philosopher
“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
Aldo Leopald
Author, Philospoher & Naturalist

Exploration

Design Idea Generation

To gather a wide range of initial ideas, brainstorming and evergreen note taking was used. Brainstorming was helpful for serendipitous thought journeys, whereas evergreen note taking was useful to link the thinking from research and ideation. These ideas were evaluated in response to impact and speculation.

Evaluating Ideas

Forming Directions

Listening Spaces

An audio sanctuary that highlights and isolates individual bird song to inform a better understanding of bird ecology.

Connection Devices

A way for humans to connected their senses to a tree and understand how a tree interacts with its environment.

We Are Aurochs

What happens when humans cause the extinction of crucial species? Here, humans take the role of animals they’ve pushed to extinction.

A Reality Check

Wild Explorations

Physically connecting to trees and local woodland was explored in greater depth, as an investigation into how human senses could better understand the ecology of trees. A sci-fi fungus helmet and projected light show ended up creating over-defined experiences, an inherent problem of designed objects.

Eventually, a more imaginative response was employed, where humans engage in a thought process, taking the time to better understand how a tree is connected with its environment. 

 

To start tackling environmental problems such as the biodiversity crisis, ocean and atmospheric pollution, we should start thinking like trees. Trees care for the overall health of an ecosystem, where biodiversity matters for survival. Trees can teach us how to be regenerative, how to embrace inter-species relationships, how to create environments for living organisms to flourish. Most importantly they provide valuable insights on how to rewild our planet.

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Design Thinking Resurgence

Experience Journey

This project respects a planetary first mindset, which highlights the beauty and experience of existing alongside the living. When an activity or experience is defined by the ecology of a place, the designers intention of the activity should not interfere. The following user experience journey map is intentionally open and interpretive, organic and free flowing. Undefined, it lets nature and the living decide on the flow of experience and understanding.

The Outcome

Design For Deep Ecological Thinking

A campaign to help human beings better connect to nature and start thinking more holistically about their relationship with other beings. The campaign consists of a street mural, short film and posters.

Mural

Street art designed to demonstrate the mycorrhizal networks that support multi-species relationships.

Short Film

A short film exploring how humans might begin to think like trees.

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Posters

Poster boards designed for hopeful protests.

As Featured On Dezeen!

Winner of the UoB Product Design Ambitious Project Award 2021.

A Design Manifesto

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Design Projects