by Elizabeth Pass, Cohort VI
for the June 2022 issue of Headwaters Highlights
Although this month’s Fantastic Find isn’t specifically focused on Virginia, so much of its content directly apply and simply fascinates me that I want to share it with you. I hope you are also interested in this find!
Studio d-o-t-s is a “nomadic research-led studio” that describes itself as “seeking alternative design perspectives.” They work primarily out of a van, travel all over the world, work with designers and experts from a vast variety of fields, and produce an amazing array of fascinating exhibitions, writing pieces (e. g., manifestos, articles, journals, newsletters, posters), and products.
One of its exhibits, Plant Fever, asks its audience to discover plants’ hidden potential. They provide a variety of design opportunities for anyone to re-think and re-educate.
The exhibit takes you through a learning path, organized into three integrated areas to consider: 1) Plants as Resources, 2) Plants as Pets, and 3) Plants as Allies. The Plant Fever Exhibition Visitors Guide, unlike most visitors guides, provides an in-depth discussion of the physical exhibition (it can be downloaded as a PDF).
From the touring Plant Fever exhibition at CID au Grand-Hornu, Belgium, Oct 2020-July 2021. Image courtesy of Plant Fever.
Plants as Resources asks us to view plants and our symbiotic relationship with them. The Visitors Guide then offers several specific examples and interesting facts (e.g., a discussion of the politics of seed).
Plants as Pets was the most eye-opening concept for me. I am a passionate supporter of rescuing and adopting, in particular Chihuahuas, as proven by my current count of 6 furbaby Chis. I am also passionate about conservation and often talk to the trees, birds, and squirrels I come across, but I hadn’t equated plants—my houseplants—to my furbabies. Why not? I do believe plants communicate. Every time I smell fresh-cut grass I can’t help but envision all the little blades of grass screaming since technically that smell is released when they are damaged. What would be so odd to make the next logical step? The Visitors Guide discusses how some designers are changing the way we see plants by redesigning the homes plants live in—not the universal, standard pot but individual environments for individual needs.
I can’t wait to attach a magnifying glass on my ivy so I can get to know her better!
Finally, Plants as Allies challenges humans’ vision of supremacy with recent research that suggests plants are sentient and intelligent beings. The difference, however, is that instead of using plants as a tool to solve problems, a new way to view and engage with plants is working collaboratively with plants to solve problems.
You can watch the trailer from the Zurich exhibit. I particularly like how aware they are to provide activities for children throughout the exhibit, as well as specific activities for kids on the website!
If you’d like to explore these topics further than what the Exhibition Visitors Guide can provide, they have written a book, Plant Fever: Towards a Phyto-centered Design. (The book is also available on Amazon.)
Additionally, they have developed the Plant Fever message into a laminated poster manifesto,
The Manifesto of Phyto-centered Design: An invitation to reframe our relationship with the vegetal realm, which I think is a wonderful way to start a conversation with others.
The Manifesto of Phyto-centred Design. Image courtesy of Plant Fever.
The manifesto has 7 items. The poster gives an explanation under each one, but I’ve only listed the 7 manifesto points here:
1. Plants do NOT equal Objects
2. Boycott monoculture
3. Restore the ancient alliance
4. Stop the war on invasives
5. Less is more
6. Leave no trace
7. Design with plants
The Plant Fever Journal homepage
– Elizabeth Pass, Cohort VI, for the June 2022 edition of Headwaters Highlights