This is the title of the keynote delivered by Yoko Akama during the International Conference of Creative Multimedia (ICCM 2021), which took place during 21-23 June 2021 on the theme 'Design innovation, interdisciplinarity and sustainability'. In this talk, she also introduced DESIAP and the work she is doing with Prof. Yee.
In looking towards future contexts of design where its approach, process and consequence necessitate greater scrutiny, I am interested in exploring how we, as designer researchers, practitioners and students, might embrace uncertainty as a constant condition. I explore and question how we conceive, enact and embody designing with other people and beings, seeing design as a process of transformation of ourselves when making enduring relations and futures together. When uncertainty has often been framed as a risk and something that should be controlled, mitigated or overcome, what generative possibilities might emerge if we approached uncertainty with hope, humility and sensitivity? To me, this requires a sensitivity to invisible dynamics, an honest reflexivity in one’s actions and surrendering aspects of my design education and industry training to short-circuit entrenched habits, attend to mindlessness and re-examine value-driven expectations. This prepares a form of readiness to immerse in emergence, contingency, discomfort and controversy to stimulate discovery of an unknown that a more analytical and planned process would not. If we acknowledge that we are designed by our own designing, by surrendering certainty and attachment and embracing uncertainty, I am trying to open up to the kinds of relationships that I might create or change, as well as being changed by it, to cultivate potentiality in what we might all become together. Perhaps, then, design can be less arrogant in claiming to solve problems on behalf of people, but become rescripted with generosity, plurality and care to participate in worlds what we all, humans and more-than-human, can share together.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to create ‘island to island’ relationships with many people across the Asia-Pacific – a place of rich and diverse archipelagos – through a network called Designing Social Innovation in Asia-Pacific, which I co-founded with Professor Joyce Yee, from Northumbria University. I have been metaphorically sailing to these various islands and they have become a significant constellation by which to orientate my approach to navigating and learning about many kinds of designing. These encounters, often through generous invitation, have required me to listen, engage and follow, guided by the host, while releasing and surrendering what Im holding on to and carrying with me.
As we sail to many archipelagos, we must also learn how to respectfully embrace other perspectives, knowledges, practices, experiences and world views and attempt to rediscover or reorientate relationships. I say reorientation for those who were conditioned through dominant systems of separation, omission and acquisition, and to reorientate towards alternative ways of relating, of being entangled and implicated with one another.