Dessobons: when design is the other (of many others).

  • Alfredo Gutierrez Borrero Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano
  • Marcos Mortensen Steagall  (Translator)
Keywords: Designs-other, Decolonial design, Dessobons, Indigenous design, Pluriversal design


This lecture discusses the need to break the ontological, cosmological, etymological and epistemological (in fact all kinds of “-logical”) gravitational field of design as a modern and totalizing way of converting (and incidentally, devouring) into adjectives, from the same word, all the creative practices of materiality of all human groups (indigenous design, pluriversal design, decolonial design, autonomous design, etc.). The reason behind this position is that within the languages of many of these polycardinal (coming from all directions, better than non-westerners) human groups, the words "design", "project" and "practice" do not summon anything. Dessobons are presented, as an intra-academic generalization to respectfully call the whole of the untranslatable and impluralizable “practices” that in diverse human groups fulfill a function like the one that design has within the thought and action of the western tradition from which it was born. This is set up to stop seeing such "practices" as "others" of design (not "other designs", and not even "designs-other") and start seeing design as the other of such practices. Design as the other of many other forms of otherness. The path of the Dessobons represents an escape, a flight from the design in 3 directions, first the south as the set of oblivions, rejections, contempts, and inclusions-dissolutions, from visions that locate north and west above and leave for the south and the east a secondary condition. In the plural, thought as "souths", drifts to the south of the idea of design are undertaken, from various authors and wisdoms who find in the souths ways to account for links with otherness that do not respond to the ordering modes of the dominant culture that, indeed, turns out to be the only one. The second direction of flight is that of the other, the questioning of the monologic that underlies all monoculture, this describes the trajectory of overcoming the propensity to cover otherness with external signification regimes. The idea of the toxicity of the design (design toxicity) and the toxicity of the data (datatoxicity) are introduced here, to deal with the uncritical automatism of the repetition of forms of generalization that does not attend to the specificity or the particularities of territories, places, and communities. The last direction of flight is that of other names: what during my doctoral work I called design by other names, but which in the end turn out to be names for "practices" similar to and at the same time different from design, which could be equated with it without be (therefore, equialtervalents of design), practices with other names for which design is the other. The idea of designorance (everything that design ignores) is introduced here to approach, in a problem of organization of knowledge, forms of creation irreducible to those metrics with which academic knowledge, always inclined to impose its terms of comparison, projects itself onto what often does not even take the time to understand. The intention behind this escape from design towards dessobons is to allow the way for the declassified and declassifying coevolution of a diversity of heterogeneous and immeasurable creative possibilities without affiliating them to the domain of a matrix term (design) or molding or modeling them from it. 

Author Biography

Alfredo Gutierrez Borrero, Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano
Alfredo Gutiérrez Borrero currently works at the academic area of product design in the Facultad de Artes y Diseño, Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano. He has a PhD in Design and Creation, Universidad de Caldas, Manizales, Colombia. Alfredo does research in indigenous thought, declassification of knowledge, decoloniality and southern epistemologies. Their most recent publication is Dessobons and archaeodesign.