What is resilient design?

17 Dec 2021

If we start from the adaptation of different resilience frameworks to the field of design, we could say that products or services derived from #resilient design must be able to anticipate, adapt and cope with uncertainty and adversity, adapting flexibly to different circumstances from inclusive, reflective and transformative strategies.

The #resilient design approach must be systemic (everything is interconnected to a greater or lesser extent); it must take into account potential cascading effects from the outset (not to encounter unforeseen co-lateral effects once the design is developed that may be more harmful than the positive effects that the design seeks to achieve); and it must be able to be proposed as part of an iterative process (capable of learning from itself and transforming over time).

#Resilient design places us in the context of space and time in which we live, projecting us positively into an uncertain future. The planet is telling us that we will never be sustainable if we don’t learn to be resilient.

What is resilience?

According to the RAE, “resilience” is the capacity of a living being to adapt to a disturbing agent or adverse situation. It comes from the Latin word resilio, which means to turn back, to jump back, to stand out, to bounce back.

After being initially used in the field of psychiatry, we can find the concept of resilience applied to the discipline of ecology (eco-systems and communities), engineering (resistance of materials), disaster risk reduction (resilience with respect to disasters), climate crisis (adaptation and mitigation), or urban governance (social resilience in an urban context). All these approaches have a common denominator: we need to know our context, its uncertainties and potential threats very well in order to be able to anticipate them in the process of solving any problem from the discipline of resilience.

What are the skills of a resilient designer?

The resilient designer must contemplate and know other disciplines that nurture him/her, from a systemic and holistic vision towards transformation. Disciplines such as psychiatry and psychology, anthropology, geology or physics, together with environmental, climatic, biological or botanical disciplines must be incorporated; without forgetting the philosophy and ethics necessary to preserve and protect the lives of the people who inhabit this planet and the planet itself in an uncertain and not exempt of dangers future.

Before that, the skills of a resilient designer are the curiosity for the environment and the changing reality around us, the humility to understand ourselves as part of a large-scale systemic process, full of small incremental changes; and the courage to embrace a pioneering approach from the discipline of design.