On Human Relationship with Plants: Beyond Plant Blindness.
How can design help to enhance our relationship with plants and pay more attention to them in order to consider them as living beings with their own value as opposed to utilitarian instruments for human consumption ?
Plants are vital to our survival on Earth. However, as a society, we continue to be blind to them and exploit them as an inexhaustible supply. Overtime, plants have been overlooked due to their radical alterity. The anthropocentric vision has led to an instrumentalisation of them, assuming that plants have no value outside their use for humankind and demonstrating a narrow type of understanding of them. For some years now, there has been a growing craze for indoor plants, which has become even more pronounced with the corona virus crisis and forecasts growth until 2026. Is this a phenomenon or a real desire to establish a relationship with plant life? Plants are taken for granted and seeing them as commodities has led to ecological, social and environmental issues. Why do we not see ourselves as equal or recognise our interdependence with other living things such as plants?
There is an urgent need to reconsider our relationship with plants and as designers there is an opportunity to shift perspective toward reciprocity and recognition of their right to exist as opposed to considering them only as raw materials.
The project is a set of three hybrid pots that act as links and facilitators of a conversation between plants and humans focusing on spending quality time, observation methodologies and listening. It addresses the problem of plant blindness and acknowledges attention as a doorway towards achieving balance between humans and non-humans for a more sustainable world.
The objects propose to look at plants differently and explore new ways of interacting with them, focusing on enhancing a personal relationship with them and being more attentive to their physiological aspects. The idea is to make people understand the plant system on a micro level, which could lead to having more sensitivity and respect towards plants on a macro level too.
The project takes place in the domestic environment where the objectification of plants plays a key role; as well as in public spaces such as galleries or botanical gardens with an educational and reflective mission toward decolonizing plants and making the plant blindness issue accessible and tangible.
«Since it is our responsibility to create an aesthetic with plants, how do we live with this aesthetic and how can we give more agency to the plant?»
Dawn Sanders, Associate Professor and Researcher at University of Gothenburg