-Combine Speculative Design and Collaborative Creativity to Protect Endangered Animals.
What if the world without bees? Biologist thinks 50% of the species will be facing extinction by the end of the century. As the topic of sustainable development draws more attention, ecological sustainability has become a hot topic. Protecting endangered animals seems to be an urgent issue. This essay is going to analyze how speculative design could be used within my specialism - collaborative creativity in order to protect endangered animals. There are several case studies that reflect on the speculative design’s effect on protecting endangered animals.
Chapter 1 (What is speculative design, collaborative creativity and about endangered animals)
Speculative design is an advanced way for designers to imagine the possible future, motivating people to rethink about current living conditions of human beings, which Dunne and Raby mentioned in their book. The preferable future might be part of our imagination. Perhaps there will be two applications that inspired by speculative design. The first one is to test potential products and services before they occur to judge the attitudes of industry and mainstream customers. The second is to use future technology but combining different ideas and configurations to guide the development of current products. This might be considered to guide humanity to think about the problems of the current state of life through a possible future.
Collaborative creativity is a curriculum that needs to understand the importance of interdisciplinary. “The importance of analyzing creativity in this more holistic sense is readily apparent when one considers that most creative pursuits in industry involve interdisciplinary teams working together to develop a product that cannot be created by a single individual alone,” said Lena and Ernest. Studying collaboration with diverse knowledge might be useful to recreate a preferable future. Designers could combine these thoughts and consider how to protect endangered animals.
Have you ever imagined a world without bees? Bee is the most important pollinator of food crops in the world. Two thirds of the food that people consume each day mainly relies on pollination by bees. It’s no exaggeration to say people cannot survive without bees. There are many different animal species that are facing extinction because of human activities. People tend to consider continuously gaining from existing resources instead of the survival of other species. They yearn for ivories to become their artworks while dreaming crocodiles’ skin to be part of their bags or shoes. Designers should not treat the animals as the materials to create a product. However, nowadays the perspective of most consumers has fallen into a huge misunderstanding - the rarer material is, the more valuable the product is. This caused the normal animal species becoming endangered and extinct later on. So what if changing people's inherent ideas?
Chapter 2 (According to the case studies to relate the speculative design, collaborative creativity and protection of endangered animals.)
Pandas used to be considered as endangered species, and this is partially why WWF (World Wildlife Fund) has been using it as a logo since 1996. During that time people considered the issue of what if panda had been completely extinct in the next two decades and human would have lost this adorable, large-scale carnivore with black and white fur. So designers created the logo with panda to attract people’s attention. However, pandas are no longer endangered because of human’s protection these years. Therefore, some graphic designers want to design a logo that symbolizes all endangered species. They tried to use polar bears to replace panda because iceberg melts caused by global warming, causing the decline of them. Designers started to think about what kind of animals might be endangered in a possible future and took this to warn human to take good care of them. The combination between the graphic designers’ idea and the zoologists’ research could mean the beginning of the animals’ protection in a speculative way.
I also consider that building people’s recognition of the great value of rare species might play an important role in protecting endangered species. ‘Tiger Penis Project’ generated by Kuang YiKu is a worth-learning speculative design example. In this project, his main purpose was trying to create organs (used to be the parts of the real animals) through synthetic biology that can replace the animal products as traditional Chinese medicine. As Kuang claimed, “Eating animal parts is a common practice in traditional Chinese medicine. Eating tiger penis for male virility enhancement is called ‘yi xing bu xing’.” This case probably makes people imagine what it will be like when medicines, food, or products made from animal parts turn out to be biosynthetic substances. The potential products might be tested by patient’s attitude which could verify its possibility and this is part of the application in speculative design. Associating with science and design, Kuang YiKu, a social designer, initiates a new plan for protecting animals.
Compared with the medicinal value with the previous case, the edibleness of the rare species with the next case is more general for the public. A great number of the species’ extinction is caused by people's greedy appetite, such as Atlantic Bluefin tuna. The good taste of this kind of fish is considered as extremely delicious. Therefore, humans’ overfishing led to a sharp decline in their numbers. International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) already put it on the red list, marking as “Endangered”. What if designers create some ‘new creatures’ based on people’s favorite flavor? Marije Vogelzang, an eating designer who created a project named ‘faked meat’. It is an attractive project because she invented some new creatures with shapeless soy protein. She indicated that “The fantasy animals I invented have a habitat, lifestyle and diet and these factors decide on the design and taste of the meat.” Also the taste of the faked meat caters to general public. Her main purpose in this project is mainly for vegetarian. It makes me think of the use of future technology but combining different ideas and configurations to guide the development of current products. Could people accept these faked creatures created by the food designers to substitute the good taste endangered animals? Is it possible to cultivate people's understanding of the value of endangered species? People might be interested in these new creatures, for example Biccio, and curious about the taste. If the taste could evoke their interest, the animals such as Atlantic Bluefin tuna could probably survive in the future.
In these case studies, the designers applied speculative design and a variety of disciplines (such as graphic design and zoology, medicine and science, food design and nutriology) to create a possible future while using these to shift people’s sight on endangered animals’ value. When the medicine, food or product are unique and can replace the animals as material, human activities might not hurt them and their amount might rise up.
Presenting the possibilities of the future might let people reflect on the current attitude towards animals. When people awareness that protecting endangered animals are important and go into action, ecological sustainability could be developed. Our next-generation might experience the diversity of animal species by themselves.
Atlantic Bluefin tuna, Screenshot, <https://www.businessinsider.com/why-bluefin-tuna-expensive-fish-japan-sushi-maguro-2018-11?r=US&IR=T> [Accessed 25 August, 2019]
Auger J James (2013) “Speculative design: crafting the speculation, Digital Creativity”, (Published online: 28 Apr 2013) <https://doi.org/10.1080/14626268.2013.767276>, p.12
Dunne Anthony; Raby Fiona, “Speculative everything: design, fiction, and social dreaming”, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013), chapter 1, p.2
Dunne Anthony; Raby Fiona, “Speculative everything: design, fiction, and social dreaming” (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013), chapter 1, pp 2-6
Fantasy animal Biccio, < https://marijevogelzang.nl/portfolio_page/faked-meat/> [Accessed 24 August, 2019]
Hilder Rosie, Computer Arts, “Designers react to Grey London’s speculative WWF rebrand”, Creative Bloq, Art and Design Inspiration, ( Posted March 20, 2017), <https://www.creativebloq.com/features/designers-react-to-grey-londons-speculative-wwf-rebrand>, [Accessed 22 August, 2019]
Mckie Robin, The Observer, “Biologist thinks 50% of the species will be facing extinction by the end of the century”, posted on The Guardian 25 Feb 2017,
<https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/25/half-all-species-extinct-end-century-vatican-conference>, [Accessed 24 August, 2019]
Report: “Speculative Future Clinic of Chinese Medicine”, Posted: 21 June 2018
<https://www.baltanlaboratories.org/library/report-speculative-future-clinic-of-chinese-medicine>, [Accessed 22 August, 2019]
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e. T21860A9331546. <https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/21860/9331546>, [Accessed 25 August, 2019]
Tiger Penis Project, Screenshot, <https://www.baltanlaboratories.org/library/report-speculative-future-clinic-of-chinese-medicine>, [Accessed 24 August, 2019]
Vogelzang Marije, Faked Meat, < https://marijevogelzang.nl/portfolio_page/faked-meat/>, [Accessed 25 August, 2019]
WWF logo, <https://www.wwf.org.uk/> [Accessed 07 June, 2015]
Sustainability for all, “WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF BEES DISAPPEAR?”, acciona, <https://www.activesustainability.com/environment/what-would-happen-if-bees-disappeared/>, [Accessed 22 August, 2019]
 Robin Mckie, The Observer, “Biologist thinks 50% of the species will be facing extinction by the end of the century”, posted on The Guardian 25 Feb 2017, <https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/25/half-all-species-extinct-end-century-vatican-conference>  Anthony Dunne; Fiona Raby, “Speculative everything: design, fiction, and social dreaming”, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013), chapter 1, p.2  Anthony Dunne; Fiona Raby, “Speculative everything: design, fiction, and social dreaming” (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013), chapter 1, pp 2-6  J James Auger (2013) “Speculative design: crafting the speculation, Digital Creativity”, (Published online: 28 Apr 2013) <https://doi.org/10.1080/14626268.2013.767276>, p.12  Sustainability for all, “WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF BEES DISAPPEAR?”acciona, <https://www.activesustainability.com/environment/what-would-happen-if-bees-disappeared/>  Rosie Hilder, Computer Arts, “Designers react to Grey London’s speculative WWF rebrand”, Creative Bloq, Art and Design Inspiration, ( Posted March 20, 2017), <https://www.creativebloq.com/features/designers-react-to-grey-londons-speculative-wwf-rebrand>  Report: “Speculative Future Clinic of Chinese Medicine”, Posted: 21 June 2018 <https://www.baltanlaboratories.org/library/report-speculative-future-clinic-of-chinese-medicine>  The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e. T21860A9331546. <https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/21860/9331546>  Marije Vogelzang, Faked Meat, < https://marijevogelzang.nl/portfolio_page/faked-meat/>