The poetic dimension of metadesign: Finding opportunities for human transformation

Elisa Giaccardi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientific


This personal Festschrift for Humberto Maturana spotlights his pioneering 1997 essay ‘Metadesign’. The author’s own PhD on metadesign was completed in 2003, and she uses Maturana’s essay as an aide-memoir for revisiting perennial questions about whether technology can catalyse a humane and creative society. In this personal and reflective essay, the author admires Maturana’s combination of scientific discipline and compassion. She also notes that, at a time when many saw metadesign as a way to design the technologies that would anticipate and meet human needs, Maturana was identifying its poetic, world-making capacity for human transformation. Today, designers can still learn from his respect for the vagaries and complexities of language, emotion and co-creativity when developing computational systems and infrastructures. The author concludes that Maturana’s vision of metadesign is convivial, rather than totalising. Ultimately, it is an appeal for imaginative and responsible action.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMetadesigning Designing in the Anthropocene
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781000590999
ISBN (Print)9781003205371
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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