From Umwelt to Design

The Umwelt is my thesis subject i worked on during my master Media Design at HEAD Genève in 2017. As a concept, the Umwelt include the world of things perceptively accessible constituting the environment, the world as perceived by a subject according to his sensorial apparatus, the signs produced by a subject or an object in this perceived world, and any action that a species is capable of doing. It could also be said that the Umwelt determines the meaning of an object and what interactions are possible between this subject and this object.

This thesis is a vulgarization attempt of this concept and to bring it closer to design thinking. I was led, during my research, to ask myself how the Umwelt concept could influence our way of thinking our own perceptions, our ability to observe, or at least imagine, those we do not have, and to experience them ?
Moreover, with the emergence of artificial intelligence, the proliferation of connected and smart objects interacting with their environment, learning, developing and evolving by themselves, i was also led to question myself on the possible contribution of this concept to better understand the design and possible uses of these objects.
Finally, i wondered how the notion of Umwelt, as defined by Jakob Von Uexküll, should be invoked in a reflection on our practice of design, and how, perhaps, it could influence this last.



Yoann Douillet


Daniel Pinkas


You can download the thesis here (in french)

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