Design terroir: An eco-social, relational, bioregional approach to design.
Adrien Rigobello, Joshua D. Evans.
Design practices grounded in the modernist yearning for universalism have often been oblivious to forms of local knowledge, and the situated webs of relations, among humans and with other species, they emerge from. In response to the destructive effects of this inattention, growing research has established that ecology and society must be considered together to ensure fair and resilient development. Here, we develop the concept of 'design terroir' to describe existing forms of eco-social design and help designers theorise and realise work that contributes to a relational bioregionalist approach. To inform this description, we extend considerations within the food domain to design, including relation to territory, craft knowledge, multisensory aesthetics, and multispecies relationships. Drawing on examples, we review common epistemological qualities between vernacular architecture and food terroirs. We then illustrate how design terroir can inform contemporary design practice and conclude with considerations of how the concept can be used.

To be presented at the Design Research Society Conference 2024.
Pre-print on SSRN
Illustration credit: A. Rigobello.
Salers cow picture: Fabien1309, Wikimedia Commons, 2021.