N E X T .

Anthroponix: Upcycling Urine as Collective Design Practice

Published in: NERD — New Experimental Research in Design 2: Positions and Perspectives

Edited by Michelle Christensen, Ralf Michel, and Wolfgang Jonas.

Walter de Gruyter and Birkhäuser Boston. Series: Board of International Research in Design.

ISBN: 978-3-0356236-5-9. May, 2021.

Integrative flourishing stems from patterns of eating, living, and engaging with the world that promotes well-being and a healthy environment. For proliferating integrative flourishing, we need to explore novel, design-led collaborations for remaking artifacts and human organization. In this study, participants-cum-makers fermented their urine for a substrate in which to grow lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and thereby create a simple material relationship between their bodies and the plants. Process documentation and interviews with the 22 participants evaluated the key aspects that promoted their social engagement and thriving during the two-month experiment. The analysis revealed how jointly encountered technical ambiguity stimulated curiosity and how a unifying purpose promoted adaptive co-creation and mutual support. In synergetic dynamics, these factors contributed to the integrative flourishing in the waste upcycling collective. The findings indicate the importance of recursive self-regulation following interaction with an ‘other.’ The study outlines a systemic model for practitioners’ use to orient collectivist design that positively affects environmental relationships.

DOI link

Keywords: Participatory Action Research, collectivized experimentation; desirability practice; co-creation diagramming; Hong Kong; fermentation; urine.

Acknowledgements:: The author gratefully acknowledges Sarah Daher, Ilpo Koskinen, Nathan Felde, Noel Benson, Timothy Jachna, and the 22 courageous urine-cycling participants for their invaluable contributions. This work is supported by a Seed Grant of Design Trust in Hong Kong and an Internationalisation Grant of Dutch Creative Industries in Rotterdam.