Design as a Practice of Correspondence
KISD _TH Köln | MA Methods Lab | Summer 2021

In the project “Design as a Practice of Correspondence”, MA students investigated urban environments beyond anthropocentric determinations. What does it mean to inhabit the city when “animals, materials, devices, atmospheres, and other things” are perceived as equal actors that “affect us in what we do as much as we affect their existence in the world” (García Molina / Weidle 2019)?

The starting point for the creative examination was the concept of correspondence, as recently explained by the British anthropologist Tim Ingold. “To correspond with the world, in short, is not to describe it, or to represent it, but to answer to it” (Gunn / Donovan 2016). Ingold’s approach engages in fashioning ongoing-processual, open-ended, conversational, inclusive, and future-oriented worlds (Ingold 2019). His ecological anthropology investigates the relations of human and non-human species, as well as organic and inorganic materials, how they affect each other and thus achieve agency (Ingold 2016).

With Ingold’s reflections in mind, the participants went into search for forms of correspondence in urban environments. They explored relational structures and interactions between urban actors of all kinds in order to develop new approaches for design practice and production of space. In doing so, they took the approach of producing knowledge through design, using imagination, speculation, and improvisation as methods for creating hybrid mappings.

The project “Design as a Practice of Correspondence” was part of the Methods Lab 2021 of the Master’s program “Integrated Design”. Simon Meienberg was invited by the “Integrated Interactions Lab”, a project of the Digital Learning Transfer Fellowship program funded by the Stifterverband and the Reinhardt-Frank Foundation.

García Molina, A., and Weidle, F. (2019, January 21). Correspondence. Society for Cultural Anthropology, (July 7, 2021).

Gunn, W., and Donovan, J., eds. (2016). Design and Anthropology. London: Routledge.

Ingold, T. (2019). Art and Anthropology For a Sustainable World. In: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 25 (4), 659–675.

Ingold, T. (2016). An Ecology of Materials. An Interview by Petra Löffler and Florian Sprenger. In: Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft 14, (July 7, 2021).

Jiye Kim, Meet Us Along the Rhine River; Tomás Ignacio Corvalan Azocar, Hidden Communities: Places of Gathering in the Digital-Analogue; Jihee Hwang, Achtung Freihalten; Marina Helena Müller, Largo Zumbi dos Palmares: Space as a White Board; Sally Loutfy, Designing for Circumstance.

Simon Meienberg
Simon Meienberg is a Designer for Social Transformation and Spatial Narratives. He graduated with a Master of European Studies in Design at KISD and complemented his studies at Politechnico di Milano and ENSCI – Les Ateliers in Paris. In his MA thesis in the area of Design Theory and Research, he investigated urban forms of interaction of migrants in Paris and Cologne as strategies for home making in a foreign country. In the context of this work, he organized a participatory workshop and a public exhibition at Atelierzentrum Ehrenfeld, Cologne, which was supported by ArtAsyl e.V. and JACK IN THE BOX e.V. Simon Meienberg is currently working and researching as a design consultant for the IOM (International Organisation for Migration) of the UN – United Nations in Gambia.