‘M’ is for Multispecies Design

A handful of wild animals on a piece of land held by a human hand

I cannot claim to be an expert in Multispecies Design but when I read about the topic on WGSN’s global trends website it piqued my interest.

Multispecies Design (MD) is the practice of designing systems and artefacts that address the needs of humans as well as wild animal species.

Daniel J. Metcalfe

At this moment in time I wouldn’t say MD is particularly relevant to interior design but in the future it could have a big impact on our homes. I came across this fascinating subject when searching for interior design trends for the ‘M’ in my A-Z of Interior Trends series of blogs and social media posts.

I had a list in my note book that I could choose from

  • mid-century
  • modern country
  • modern rustic
  • minimalist
  • maximalist
  • modernist
  • multi-functional

but I felt that these were well-documented and no longer ground-breaking ideas.

What is Multispecies Design?

Multispecies Design is likely to gain momentum over the 10 years as the transformative effects of the 2020s will become more evident.

The crux of MD is that non-human species need to be considered in a positive way when designing homes and cities for human occupation. Animals and flora are frequently forced out of their natural habitat to make way for the human race and this is having a detrimental effect on all concerned. People are being alienated from nature and non-human species are losing their natural habitat.

‘Sustainability’, ‘provenance’ and ‘biophilia’ are buzz words which, in recent years, have gained momentum and are now commonplace in the world of interiors. There is far more awareness with regards to generating less waste, wanting to learn about the source of our possessions and introducing natural elements into our homes and workspaces. This is all really good but on the whole it can be seen as reducing negative effects on our planet rather than creating and embracing positive effects.

Multispecies Design considers the needs of non-human species and poses the question ‘could human habitats be designed to support a wider range of species that would promote respect and empathy between people and wild animals?’

Living with wildlife

I am really fortunate to live in an area of ‘green belt’ and whilst I acknowledge much of these designated areas are being eroded by the need to create an abundance of new homes I take my stewardship very seriously and do my utmost to encourage a diverse range of wildlife into my garden. I believe thoughtful planting and limiting light pollution is key to encouraging pollinators and night creatures to enjoy the delights of this tiny speck on our planet.

I know I am not alone in trying to create a welcoming habitat for wildlife and it seems that much is being done to reintroduce flora into cities around the world. Good examples would be rooftop gardens, living walls and green roofs. In turn the introduction of flora has seen the rise in the number of wild animals migrating to cities many of which are regarded as pests by humankind.

Looking to the future

Multispecies Design accepts that there are many avenues that need to be explored if it is to succeed but I believe it is going to be a design discipline that will gather pace as more of our open spaces are turned into concrete jungles.

If you have been inspired by this blog and would like to read Daniel J. Metcalfe’s thesis on MD click here and for more information about this topic check out the links below.

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