Chengcheng Teng & Ankita Roy
Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby
Speculative Design Project
Parsons School of Design (2016)
How might we design for the unintended consequences of human behavior and ideologies?
Anthophila Reveries is a speculative design concept that challenges our complacency with the Anthropocene and the privileged position of humans in the natural world.
The concept is a package of artifacts and imaginative-rationale that stem from a fictional residency in which humans live and work amongst Anthophila (bees) in reclaimed strip malls that have been converted to sanctuaries of preservation and, more importantly, honor for the vital insects.
America’s quintessential symbols of consumption – shopping malls – have become ghosts of our wasteful attitudes. As we obsessively strive to satisfy the individual through “human-centered design,” we ignore the voiceless stakeholders in order to keep the American dream alive. Among those voiceless victims are Anthophila, better known as bees, nature’s hardest working class. Although Anthophila are our most sacred natural technology, their decline has been mostly ignored and indicates our ecological neglect and ignorance.
Stanford University’s Department of Geotechonomics (DoG) believes, because you can no longer disbelieve, that the natural world is built. In order to reimagine a world in which humans are not at the center, the DoG has pioneered the Anthophila Residency, a one-year commitment of science and service. Located in Oakland, CA, the department has repurposed an abandoned shopping mall of 14 acres as an experimental reverie seeking to re-prioritize our priorities. There, time & structure, scale & space, and comfort & lifestyle have taken on a new dimension. A cohort of visionaries including sensory architects, bouquet engineers, and biosphere strategists work amongst the honorable Anthophila.
"Anthophila Reveries" was designed to respond to the ecological and social devastation possible with the loss of bees, a current reality and crisis for humanity. The concept repositions the human as inferior to Anthophila by suggesting the tools, environments, practices, culture, and even math within that world.
The artifacts created include a ritual-based calendar and almanac, a uniform design, field-work mask technology, customized sign-language, and various graphics that detail the scale and engineering aspects of the converted spaces.
This project was invented during a speculative studio course in the MFA Transdisciplinary Design program at Parsons School of Design, under the guidance of faculty members Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby. The course’s creative brief began with an examination of autonomous technologies and ideologies, through which we developed our own critical lenses and invented alternative worldviews.