Zoocentric Design: Pigs, Products, Prototypes and Performances

DS 76: Proceedings of E&PDE 2013, the 15th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, Dublin, Ireland, 05-06.09.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: John Lawlor, Ger Reilly, Robert Simpson, Michael Ring, Ahmed Kovacevic, Mark McGrath, William Ion, David Tormey, Erik Bohemia, Chris McMahon, Brian Parkinson
Author: Baxter, Seaton; Bruce, Fraser
Series: E&PDE
Institution: University of Dundee, United Kingdom
Section: Best Education in Practice
Page(s): 672-677
ISBN: 978-1-904670-42-1


This paper is concerned with how we apply design to our association with other non-human animals. It exemplifies this with the domestication and current use of the pig (Sus domesticus). After a brief review of the process of domestication, the paper looks at modern production and the increase in concerns for animal health, welfare and performance and the link to food for human consumption. The paper elaborates on the extreme nature of intensive pig production systems and the role that design plays in their operations. It points out the prototypical nature of the modern pigs’ evolution and the means by which man contributes his own prototypes to these changes. It pays some attention to the often conflicting concerns of efficient production and animal welfare. It exemplifies this in a brief study of 2 design products - floor systems and feeding systems, and through the use of a Holmesian type puzzle, shows the complex interrelationships of the two products. The paper emphasises the need for designers to avoid extreme anthropomorphism, adopt whenever possible a zoocentric and salutogenic (health oriented) approach and remain fully aware that all technical decisions are also likely to be ethical decisions. The paper concludes with some suggestions of what might be incorporated into the curriculum of product design courses.

Keywords: Design, prototyping, education, living systems, product


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