Emily Carr DESIS Lab Assembly meeting March 30, 2016

Interesting people having interesting conversations….



The DESIS Lab meeting this March hosted four DESIS format presentations. Topics were Transition Town Collaborations, Who is Social (Post-human design), and DESIS goes to Milano. This was followed by a lively discussion, with emerging themes of:

  • Can DESIS provide for alternative learning models, such as projects that integrate graduate students with undergraduate, and allow for courses that are initiated by students?
  • The presentations began a process of reflection. We’d like to continue to look at the work of DESIS as a body of work, and then evolve the conversation about DESIS: what are the larger themes and meanings we can draw from this?
  • There is an excitement about the possibility of collaborating with DESIS labs internationally…. Starting of course, with our presence at the Triennale in Milano this summer!


Connection Means: Action Together

Emily Carr DESIS lab at the 2016 Triennale

The Emily Carr DESIS Lab is bringing action and connection to the 2016 Triennale in Milano. Through a series of facilitated activities and events, we will research the physicality of collaborative making as a method for creating new social relationships.

Featured as part of Emily Carr University’s Liminal Lab popup studio and exhibition, the Emily Carr DESIS lab will offer serial collective actions that investigate how making common things (books. hats. poems. bread. ropes. clothes pegs. pizza. . .) together fosters meaningful ties. Participants will actively make artifacts in collaboration in order to draw out embodied knowledge in our hands, feet, shoulders, and elbows. Does this foster new social relationships? Allow us to generate new value laden collectives?

All projects will be documented physically through the immediate means of polaroid photography and posted regularly at the Liminal Labs exhibit.

First Emily Carr DESIS meeting of 2016

This widely attended meeting brought forward a discussion about a number of questions. Students wished to know how they could initiate DESIS projects. Students also brought up questions about experiments in new ways of living that they were conducting in their own lives; how could this be formalized as DESIS research? Faculty raised questions about societal change related to policy: how does DESIS embrace policy work? Eminent Professor Emeritus from the U of A, Jorge Frascara reminded those present to look for projects and initiatives that are small scale, local, and attainable; success builds positive momentum and energy for DESIS work.

Ezio Manzini Skype lecture at Emily Carr

Ezio Manzini spoke by Skype to a large audience of faculty and students at Emily Carr on February 03, 2016. His informative talk highlighted key qualities of DESIS projects. Special thanks to Thanks to Guille Noel and her “Design for Social Change Studio” course for initiating this talk.


DESIS Discussion Group


Social media as enabling or interrupting engagement with the natural


Discussion Poster web

Emily Carr University’s DESIS group will be hosting a discussion group Mar 23, 2015.

In this hour long critical debate, we will endeavor to understand undergraduate design student’s perception around indirect engagement with nature through technology. Technology does act as a barrier to the real but also enables access to the natural without disturbing the environment.

If you have any questions about this event please contact discussion lead Lisa Boulton: lboulton@ecuad.ca


Who is Social?

who is social.3

Who is Social?  Dialogues in a more-than-human world.

This DESIS initiative researches how social innovation can encompass more than humans. “Who is Social?” is rooted in the understanding that survival on this living, breathing planet is contingent on embracing our relationship with the entirety of the living and non-living world.

‘Who is Social’ brings people into conversation with sentient and non-sentient beings. Animist theory suggests that this conversation is not verbal; it is an embodied communication, situated in haptic, intuitive, sensuous physical space 1. Dialogues in a more-than-human world build capacities for multi-modal, embodied understandings.

Earth-centered religions, aboriginal wisdom, animism, deep ecology, gaia theory, and physics affirm that the earth is alive and always evolving. Many indigenous cultures respect wisdom across a spectrum of granite, cedar and fox. Buddhist religions also acknowledge the life force of sentient and non-sentient beings.

Over recent centuries in contemporary Western society, the relationship between humans and the more-than-human world has ruptured 2; this has fostered the growth of belief systems that permit damage to ecosystems that formerly sustained a diversity of life forms.

‘Who is Social’ seeks to re-engage people with natural world; what does social innovation look like if we engage with the entirety of the ecosphere?

1. Abram, David. 2010. Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology. 1st ed. New York: Pantheon Books.

2. Worthy, Kenneth. 2013. Invisible Nature: Healing the Destructive Divide between People and the Environment. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books.

Post-Growth Fashion Dialogues

Emily Carr faculty Hélène Day Fraser recently attended the Local Wisdom dialogue about the craft of use and post-growth fashion, March 2014, at the London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. Day Fraser’s papers on post-growth fashion are pending publication and will soon be posted on this site.local wisdom

DESIS goes to Vancouver Design Conference

Eighth International Conference on Design Principles and Practices

16-18 January 2014
UBC Robson Square
Vancouver, Canada

“Design as Collective Intelligence”

Thursday, 16 January

09:45-10:20 – Lorraine Justice
10:20-10:55 – Alex Beim
10:55-11:40 – Garden Conversation and Coffee Break, Sponsored by the Master of Design program at Emily Carr University

Friday, 17 January
09:00-09:35 – Jorge Frascara and Guillermina Noël
09:35-10:10 – Gregory Henriquez
10:10-10:55 – Garden Conversation and Coffee

Saturday, 18 January
09:00-09:35 – Bonne Zabolotney
09:35-10:10 – Tania Willard
10:10-10:55 – Garden Conversation and Coffee Break