Pluriversal Spaces for Decolonizing Design: Exploring Decolonial Directions for Participatory Design

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Nicholas Baroncelli Torretta
Lizette Reitsma
Per-Anders Hillgren
Tara Nair van Ryneveld
Anne-Marie Hansen
Yénika Castillo Muñoz


Decolonization is a situated effort as it relates to the relations of privilege, power, politics, and access (3P-A, in Albarrán González’s terms) between the people involved in design in relation to wider societies. This complexity creates certain challenges for how we can understand, learn about, and nurture decolonization in design towards pluriversality, since such decolonizing effort is based on the relationship between specific individuals and the collective. In this paper, we present and discuss the ‘River project’, a participatory space for decolonizing design, created for designers and practitioners to reflect on their own 3P-A as a way to create awareness of their own oppressive potential in design work. These joint reflections challenged ideas of participation and shaped learning processes between the participants, bringing to the foreground the importance of seeing and allowing for a plurality of life and work worlds to be brought together. We build on the learnings from this project to propose the notions of pluriversal participation, pluriversal presence, and pluriversal directionality, which can help nurture decolonizing designs towards pluriversality. We conclude by arguing that, for nurturing pluriversality through Participatory Design, participation, presence, and direction must be equally pluriversal.


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How to Cite
Torretta, N. B., Reitsma, L., Hillgren, P.-A., van Ryneveld, T. N., Hansen, A.-M., & Castillo Muñoz, Y. (2023). Pluriversal Spaces for Decolonizing Design: Exploring Decolonial Directions for Participatory Design. Diseña, (22), Article.8.
Original articles
Author Biographies

Nicholas Baroncelli Torretta, Umeå Universitet

Ph.D., Umeå University. After holding a BA in Industrial Design from Fundación Armando Alvares Penteado, he earned a MA in Design for Sustainability from Aalto University. He is interested in resistance movements at the intersection of visual arts, design, and music. Some of his latest publications include ‘Design, Power and Colonization: Decolonial and Anti-oppressive Explorations on three Approaches for Design for Sustainabilityʼ (With L. Reitsma; Academy for Design Innovation Management Conference Proceedings, 2019), ‘Improvisational Design Dialogue: Exploring Relational Design Encounters as Means to Dismantle Oppression in Designʼ (with B. Clark; in DRS Conference Proceedings 2022), and ‘Journeys of Displace­ment Between South and North: Decolonizing a Designer Imaginaryʼ (with X. S. de la B. Estrada; in 1st North-South Degrowth Conference).

Lizette Reitsma, Malmö Universitet

Ph.D., Northumbria University. After holding a BSc in Industrial Design from the University of Technology Eindhoven, she earned a MSc in Industrial Design from the same university. She is an Associate Senior Lecturer in Design for Sustainability and Social Change at the School of Arts and Communication at Malmö University. Through her research, she explores Co-Design with different (Indige­nous) communities and whether/how a respectful meeting of world­views can take place. Some of her latest publications include ‘Respectfu­lly Navigating the Borderlands Towards Emergence - Co-designing with Indigenous Communitiesʼ (Routledge Handbook of Design Research, in Press), ‘Making Sense/zines: Reflecting on Positionalityʼ (Pivot Confe­rence Proceedings, 2021), and ‘A Respectful Design Framework Incor­porating Indigenous Knowledge in the Design Processʼ (with A. Light, T., Zaman, and P. A. Rodgers, The Design Journal, Vol. 22, Issue sup. 1).

Per-Anders Hillgren, Malmö Universitet

Ph.D. in Interaction Design, Malmö University. After a couple of years at a Preparatory Art School, he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from Lund University. He is a Professor of Interaction Design at the School of Arts and Communication at Malmö University. His research interests include design work based on critical imagination, collaborative engagement, and explorations of how processes of change can be democratized. Some of his latest publications include ‘Collaborative Future-makingʼ (with K. Lindström, A. Light, M. Strange, and L. Jönsson; in Handbook of Social Futures, Routledge, 2021), ‘ Future Public Policy and its Knowledge Base: Shaping Worldviews through Counterfactual World-makingʼ (with A. Light and M. Strange; Policy Design and Practice, Vol. 3, Issue 2), and ‘Foregrounding Learning in Infrastructuring—to Change Worldviews and Practices in the Public Sectorʼ (with M. Agger Eriksen and A. Seravalli; in Proceedings of the 16th Participatory Design Conference).

Tara Nair van Ryneveld, Lund Universitet

M.Sc. in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science, Lund University. She earned a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Cape Town. She is a Research Assistant in the Department of Human Geo­graphy/ Centre for Sustainability Studies at Lund University.

Anne-Marie Hansen, Malmö Universitet

Ph.D., Malmö University. After holding a BA in Interaction Design from Designskolen Kolding, she earned a MA in Fine Arts from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is an Assistant Professor in the School of Arts and Communication at Malmö University. Her research interests include values in design and designing with more than human perspectives. Some of her recent publications include ‘Teaching for Values in Design: Creating Conditions for Students to Go from Knowledge to Actionʼ (with E. M. Nilsson; in LearnXDesign, 2021), ‘Values Clustering Teaching Activity - A Case Study on Two Teachers’ Appropriations of Open Educational Resources for Teaching Values in Designʼ (with E. M. Nilsson, W. Barendregt, E. Eriksson, R. Toft Nørgård, and D. Yoo; in Proceedings of the 11th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction), and ‘The App Is Not Where the Action Is: Discussing Features of an Internal Communication System for a Permaculture Villageʼ (in Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on ICT for Sustainability).

Yénika Castillo Muñoz, Independent Researcher

MSc Interaction Design, Malmö University. She earned a B.Sc. in Design with a Major in Industrial Design from Universidad Anáhuac Norte. As a researcher, designer, and activist, she is interested in politics, cocreation, justice, and decolonization, and how they intersect design and creation within planetary boundaries. She is the author of ‘Staying Diasporic: Centering Migrant and Diasporic Ways of Being in Designʼ (Pivot Conference Proceedings, 2021).


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