The collaborative turn: Challenges and limits on the construction of a common plan and on autonomía in design


  • Raquel Noronha UFMA


This article deals with the challenges and limits of co-design, the possibility of adopting new forms of research and the difficulty of giving up design methods for other ways of seeing the world. If the assumptions that we use as a starting point, such as the actual idea concerning design, the creative process, and how to do things, are tied to dominant standards in terms of discourse and logic that are detached from the communities with which we have been able to co-research, such as ideas concerning productivity, development, market, and science, how can we offer our assistance in co-design? Taking the epistemological approach of postcolonial studies and the concept of the subaltern as a starting point, we dialogue with the immense challenge proposed by Arturo Escobar of thinking about autonomía. Based on the cartography as a path for design, we devised a common plan with our co-researchers – indigenous and maroon craftsmen and women, from the Maranhão Lowlands region – and in this paper, we recount experiences in correspondence, in dialogue with Tim Ingold. We present characteristics and contradictions, challenges and limits that are the result of an exercise that makes us reflect on the epistemological and conceptual pitfalls that we construct – and of which we also fall prey – when speaking about co-design, without calling into question what we call design, development, and other naturalised categories that are part of a designer’s work.

Keywords: co-design, cartography, correspondence, autonomía.

Author Biography

Raquel Noronha, UFMA

Raquel Noronha é designer (ESDI-UERJ/2002), mestre e doutora em Antropologia (PPGSOC-UFMA/2008 e PPCIS/UERJ/2015). Desenvolve pesquisas sobre as questões simbólicas da imagem e seu papel na identidade cultural local, artesanato e design anthropology. Tem como foco de sua pesquisa a relação entre o saber tradicional de comunidades artesãs e a relação com os saberes especializados. É professora do Departamento de Desenho e Tecnologia da Universidade Federal do Maranhão, onde coordena o projeto Iconografias do Maranhão e lidera o NIDA - Núcleo de pesquisa em inovação, design e antropologia. É professora do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Design da UFMA e membro do Conselho Editorial da Editora da Universidade Federal do Maranhão - EDUFMA.






Special Issue: Autonomía - Design strategies for enabling design process