Erik Sandelin

Design and Grace

In a world where human activities often violently constrict the lives of others, how can designers creatively cultivate, seemingly negative, acts of withdrawal, foreclosure and leaving be? This dissertation employs and develops the concept of grace, actively not doing what you are able to do, to decouple action from force and passivity from resignation in design.

Design and Grace operates in the nexus of two emerging design landscapes: design and animals, and design and negation. It moves through four design experiments that recompose everyday situations where humans consume other animals: eating, angling and shopping. Manifested as placebos, pauses, poisons and pacts, these prototypes populate a palette of affirmative nos and nots in design. By working towards more supple human-animal relations, the experiments critically interrogate and enrich key notions of contemporary more-than-human design: entanglement, proximity, hybridity and care. I argue that designers need to develop careful disentanglements, hesitations, incompatibilities and self-bindings, to be able to oscillate between standing with the other in solidarity, and graciously leaving be.

Design and Grace tends to a friction at the core of design, that between proposing and imposing. It seeks to provide designers and design researchers with confidence, precision and generative exemplars in envisioning and manifesting vital, effective and beautiful nos and nots.

Admitted to KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Principal supervisor: Martín Ávila, Konstfack
Assistant supervisor: Helena Pedersen, Gothenburg University
Project period: 2017-2024