Non-Human Design Lab

At the Bio Design Lab of the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, Human-Bacteria Interfaces’ Romy Kaiser and Paula Nerlich hosted the workshop “Non-Human Design Lab” as part of the 2022 Future of Life Summer School.

At the end of July, the Future of Life Summer School took place at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG) organised by the Bio Design Lab. The school looked into exploring future narratives across various design disciplines and followed questions like: What will life in the future look like? And is there still a place for us?

Romy Kaiser and Paula Nerlich, who are part of the team behind the prototype Human-Bacteria Interfaces, contributed a workshop format called “Non-Human Design Lab” to the program. The workshop “explored encounters with the invisible microbial world and creative imaginaries of interfacing with the non-human,” recall Kaiser and Nerlich. The workshop was hosted at the Bio Design Lab premises, allowing participants to take part in “lab experiments” and “knowledge sharing of narratives of microbes”, while simultaneously reflecting on where we encounter non-human agents and how they communicate.

Additionally, Kaiser and Nerlich organised group sessions where participants envisioned “speculative scenarios of the intersections between microbes and humans.” These were then presented in the shape of poems, sculptures and performances on the final day of the summer school. Kaiser and Nerlich summed recurring themes up as “topics of re-encountering the microbial world that is within and around us,” highlighting “new understandings of the value for not only human health but the health of all ecosystems and species, living and non-living”.

Ultimately, the workshop allowed to create “scenarios of non-hierarchical co-existence within future more-than human settings”, while using the potential to “interface with non-human species” to engage “speculative and near future imaginaries for our changing world and beyond our planetary boundaries.” The results were rich and inspiring for both participants and workshop leads, and the tram behind Human-Bacteria Interfaces will lead another workshop on the occasion of the upcoming Driving the Human Festival, from November 25-27, 2002, at silent green in Berlin. 

Images by the Future of Life Summer School, Text by Aisha Altenhofen