Human Being Design is a full-service design practice at the intersection between individual and environ. We engage in both self-initiated and commissioned projects, including: housing, installations, everyday items, and memorial artifacts.
(with RNAW Architects)
(with Woolley Morris Architects)
Bio-Repository of Human and Nature
Human Being Design offers end-of-life planning and design services including: funerary rites, burial/interment constructs, and monuments, memorials, and artifacts of human being. We design for all phases of life, and after.
Artifacts of Esoteric Embodiment
(MIT SMArchS thesis)
Architectural Visions from a Posthuman Future
(Syracuse BArch thesis)
Our design ethos follows a metamaterialistA framework, in which material entities are inextricable from corollary structures, systems, and forces, and in a state of continuous reciprocal dialogue. A metamaterialist model collapses binary oppositions into interdependent, inseparable, and unified vectors: human and environment, being and design, subject and object, mind and body, bit and atom, information and medium, meaning and form –– each must be understood in congenital relation to the other. This departs from modernity’s project of anthropocentric alienation, which elevated the human from the nonhuman and, consequently, the human from the fellow human. The bifurcation of human from environment and the partitioning of the human between the realms of the ideal and the real has produced multifaceted repercussions of detachment and estrangement that have contributed to so many of our current crises: of climate, of ecology, of health, of wellbeing, of empathy…B
Human Being Design: within our own work, we have come to a place in our trajectory where we find ourselves probing and seeking to reconcile binary contradictions, through both active and retrospective means. Through the aforementioned framework of metamaterialist anti-dualism, our projects foreground non-binary conditions by exploring, subverting, or dissolving traditionally binary classifications, including:
- The elusive demarcation between particulate and aggregate within systems of rammed earth construction (see: abode);
- The deliberate collision of tea and concrete, discordant anthropogenic materials with oppositional relationships to the conventional membrane of the human body, i.e. ingestible versus envelope (see: tea-crete);
- The fluctuating perceptual boundary between shape and figure in a morphological series of Euclidean paper models (see: lights);
- The externalization of the informatic structure of otherwise internalized human biomatter onto the bodily accessory of a ring, and the pairing of this genetic information with the double helix’s complementary strand on the ring of another human (see: rings);
- The chimeric unification of individual, environ, and apparatus within the distorted reflection of a mirrored surface (see: neo-cairns).
Human Being Design straddles two concurrent –– and sometimes divergent –– domains of concern:
(X) We are subject to the economic realities inherent to a service-based practice oriented towards a working class clientele. Our architectural practice centers on modest, thoughtful housing and communal spaces for both the masses and the marginalized, with an emphasis on material and spatial sensitivity, clean construction, and above all, meaningful habitation for the occupant — our foremost constituent.
(Y) We have an interest in speculative, internally discursive, and sometimes esoteric subject matter that falls outside of the zone of the conventional profit motive. Our design research is focused on novel means of anthropomorphic form-making, fabrication, and materiality, using fundamentally human tools, methods, and sources to explore, subvert, or dissolve the Enlightenment-era bifurcation between human and environment.
(X+Y) Both avenues of inquiry investigate modes of contemporary cohabitation, identity expression, and material embodiment, and share the tenet that every human is deserving of both a private space and a public expression.
Human Being Design understands the disciplines of architecture3 and design2 as vehicles for exploring the human1 condition.
(1) The human is the species of animalian organism (in amalgam with its symbiotic microbiota) who has developed the language to call itself human, the techne to design and shape its condition, in a continually circular process of dialectical interchange: the human creates the design, and the design creates the human.C
(2) We define design as the conscious –– oftentimes planned –– intervention between organisms –– oftentimes human –– and their environment.
(3) We define architecture as an apparatus of mediation between an organism’s membranous body and their environment.D
Through a metamaterialist lens, the line between organism and environment blurs, and the disciplinary boundary of architecture widens. The organism consumes and excretes, inhales and exhales, grows and decays, builds and destroys. The organism is composed of the environ, and the environ is composed of the organism. We are fascinated by these illusive dualities, and the liminal space between face and mask, body and skin, person and position. We are drawn to paradox, contradiction, dichotomy. For Human Being Design, both being and design –– agent and agency –– are inexorably intertwined. The human being [the traditional subject] and human design [the external processes and resultant object(s)] are inseparable.
A. For more on metamaterialism, see: Timur Si-Qin, “Aesthetics of Contingency: Materialism, Evolution, Art” in Stream 04 The Paradoxes of the Living (November 2017). [Link here]
B. Donna Haraway,B1 Bruno Latour,B2 Mark Jarzombek,B3 and countless others have warned us of the danger of this corporeal estrangement, and that we are living through the fallout of this mindset. It is also important to note that a metamaterialist ontological system is not new, but actually quite old, and related to the epistemologies of many non-western, atavistic, and indigenous cultures around the world.
B1. Donna J. Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century” in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York; Routledge, 1991, originally published in Socialist Review LXXX, 1985): 149-181.
B2. Bruno Latour, trans. Catherine Porter, We Have Never Been Modern (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, originally in French, 1991).
B3. Mark Jarzombek, Digital Stockholm Syndrome in the Post-Ontological Age (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016).
C. For more on the circular relationship between human and design, see: Beatriz Colomina, Mark Wigley, are we human? notes on an archaeology of design (Zürich: Lars Müller Publishers, 2016).
D. For more on the membranous nature of architecture, see: Georges Teyssot, “Architecture as Membrane” in Explorations in Architecture: Teaching, Design, Research, ed. Reto Geiser (Basel/Boston/Berlin: Birkhäuser, 2008): 166-175.
© Human Being Design 2023