Anthropological design of possible future spaces

Isabel Farina


The aim of this article is to explore the role that anthropology can play in designing participatory workshops, as a space to imagine possible futures. The article would like to shift the focus from the idea of a past oriented anthropology grounded on ethnography that informs design, to a future oriented anthropology grounded on participatory practices that is informed by design.
The experimentation of anthropology in design will be explored through the project Spazi Neonati, a participatory workshop aiming to share experiences of a neonatal intensive care ward and create a space for co-ideation between mothers, nurses, doctors and architects.
In this case participation is not a space where transformation is complete, but where a first step of encounter is made, and the future can be visualized. In the space of the workshop, the most desirable futures are not only the expected output but also the modality for engagement (Pink 2018). The role of workshops as methods for anthropological research has been little investigated by anthropologists and therefore, we refer to Pink and Akama’s work (2018), in which they design anthropological workshops aimed at exploring future-making possibilities.


design anthropology, workshop, relational field, future design

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