As a civilization, humanity has reached a point of no return. Around the world, we are facing the perils of accelerating climate change and ecosystem collapse, brought about by our own relentless pursuit of material progress. Difficult choices lie ahead, with no easy solutions to navigating the uncertain future, which may ultimately threaten our own survival as a species.
This dilemma was the catalyst for a study called ‘Co-emerging Futures’, published in 2019 by Reon Brand, Principal Designer at Philips.
The study distilled four key future directions to be pursued by humanity, driven by different mindsets. Expedition Æqualis focuses on one of these directions: Gaia. This trajectory describes a post-anthropocentric future where humanity transitions to an eco-centric worldview that puts the health of planetary ecosystems above our own needs. We believe that this is the only direction that will enable an ethical and healthy planet where biodiverse ecosystems can thrive and survive.
‘We need to transform our relationship with nature through a perpetual expedition to find and re establish deep connections, where our lives become intricately interwoven in natural systems.’ –Wendy Plomp
For a long time, humanity has acted like a self-appointed representative of nature. In our pursuit of progress, we have exploited nature as a resource, used science to bend it to our will, and pushed it to its limits by our ideals of endless economic and material growth.
Step by step, we have been moving further away from nature by disconnecting it from our urban habitat, marginalizing the spaces where it can flourish, and polluting ecosystems with our industrial processes. But as we face the perils of climate change and ecosystem decline, we realize that to heal the planet and safeguard our future existence, we should not impose our solutions on it, but leverage and learn from the remarkable resilience of nature. It is constantly emerging and evolving like an intelligent adaptive algorithm, exploring options and optimizing itself to regenerate and flourish in changing conditions.
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How do we re-establish such a relationship of mutuality if we have lost much of our indigenous knowledge and intuition, many of our skills and senses, and our spiritual connection with nature?
As humanity we need thriving natural ecosystems to live healthy and meaningful lives. Therefore, instead of further exploiting and disrupting nature, we need to deprogram our anthropocentric approach and learn how to be part of nature again on equal terms. What if we could have a change of heart and become explorers who seek to understand, connect and relate to nature in a mutually beneficial way, not for exploitation, but for rekindling our humility, love and respect for our host: planet Earth.
By starting a ground-up worldwide movement we can make impactful change and offer an opportunity to accelerate transformation of the current anthropocentric paradigm towards an eco-centric one.
Design has always been a powerful tool to rethink and rebuild the world we live in. We will use it as an activist vehicle to positively inspire audiences and mobilize a multidisciplinary community.
The quest of Expedition Æqualis is to employ design as a creative force to inspire and support humanity to transition to an eco-centric existence. We see it as ‘designing for redemption’, where design becomes key in transforming our relationship with the planet. Together with designers, researchers and other makers and thinkers we will create speculative probes and experiments, conversation pieces that spark curiosity to live a different kind of life. To envision a better future, we must build it.