Are We Human? The Mirror of Design

Beatriz Colomina | Mark Wigley

Originally published in Are We Human?, 2016.

Design always presents itself as serving the human but its real ambition is to redesign the human.

The history of design is therefore a history of evolving conceptions of the human. To talk about design is to talk about the state of our species.

Humans have always been radically reshaped by the designs they produce and the world of design keeps expanding. We live in a time when everything is designed, from our carefully crafted individual looks and online identities to the surrounding galaxies of personal devices, new materials, interfaces, networks, systems, infrastructures, data, chemicals, organisms, and genetic codes. The average day involves the experience of thousands of layers of design that reach deep into the ground and outer space but also deep into our bodies and brains. We literally live inside design, like the spider lives inside the web constructed from inside its own body. But unlike the spider, we have spawned countless overlapping and interacting webs. Even the planet itself has been completely encrusted by design as a geological layer. There is no longer an outside to the world of design. Design has become the world.

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