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Adeola Enigbokan: Architectures of Trust

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feb 17

Wed, Feb 17 2021, 6PM - 7PM


Part of event series: Spring 2021 Design Lecture Series

Adeola Enigbokan

Organized by

Interaction Design

Event description

The Design Division at CCA welcomes environmental psychologist Adeola Enigbokan of Design Academy Eindhoven, as our third speaker in the 2021 Spring Design Lecture Series. These live lectures bring us together across time zones and disciplines as we meet leading designers, strategists, curators, and educators to speak about contemporary practice, enriching our community, discourse, and making.

With a background in anthropology, sociology, art, and architecture, Enigbokan combines a knowledge of human behavior and history, with systems work, narrative building, and creative change offering a vision that is generous, surprising, and deeply humane. Interaction Design Chair Erin Malone met Enigbokan at a conference where Enigbokan was addressing the timely topic of facing the unknown. Her talk jumps with grace from this conference in Milan, to stories of plagues, to conquistadors, leading us on a path of stories that add up to listening as a structural methodology.

What do we do when parties come together, when their fates and activities entwine, but their understandings are deeply divided? Enigbokan starts with the Muisca, a people of the Andes in current Colombia, who adorned themselves in gold to pay homage to the Goddess in a lake called Guatavita, and the confusion that this inspired in a conquistador named Quesada who interpreted their activities to mean that gold came from the bottom of the lake. This misinterpretation led to 300 years of attempts to drain the lake. “It meant war. It meant the new story superseded the old. It meant the destruction of their material culture and the enslavement of people.” It begs her central question, “how do we encounter the unknown?” And, can two imaginaries sit alongside each other? “How do we as designers locate different languages and build trust?”

She paints a picture of middle spaces, consciously constructed to be home territory to neither party, spaces whose purpose is learning and exchange. She calls this kind of building an architecture of trust. Enigbokan describes the movie Arrival, where aliens approaching earth install pods just above the surface of the planet, spaces for learning and exchange, home to neither species. Next she talks about Fragmentos, a (very real) contra-monument to the half century of civil war in Colombia, designed by Doris Salcedo, a space in which “sitting and listening becomes a ritual,” where the point is to hear voices from all sides. 

Watching her talk is infectious, inspiring. It’s a beautiful vision of us as a people who can work to see and know one another. It may be the only way forward, and she offers a description of how to start.

Authored by Saraleah Fordyce