Most sustainability research efforts in design focus on the attempt to fight the climate crisis by inventing and innovating greener solutions. Hence products are being improved by using less harmful or regenerative resources, more efficient processing, prolonged use, or better disposal options. However, sustainable design seems not to be enough, if it merely focuses on innovations which overall keep exploiting resources, fill “sustainable” market niches, cause rebound effects and offset environmental gains due to increased absolute production. There is clearly an urgency to take more drastic measures and oppose our traditional understanding of everlasting consumption and production.

In recent years, the term exnovation has gained traction and is increasingly perceived as an essential element of sustainability transitions. It is often described as being roughly the opposite of innovation and targets the removal or reduction of existing technologies, products, structures etc. While other fields have been discussing approaches to tackle exnovation, design is still in the early stage. Within the PLATE2023 conference, the thematic session about exnovation shall ask questions like: How to find ways to cut production and consumption? How can designers intervene? How can people be convinced and involved? What should be avoided? What can be exnovated and what should be sustained? Etc.

Session owners: Bastian Reichhardt, Conny Bakker and Roy Bendor, Icloud and TUDeft

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