Research Fellow Ingrid Halland is the winner of Design History Society’s Essay Prize 2016 (postgraduate category) with the essay “Designs on our Ultimate Environment. Gruppo 9999, Superstudio and the New Ontological Landscape”
Design has the capacity to display the future. But what happens to the future when we face ourselves as the enemy? In the early 1970s the Italian radical design groups Superstudio and Gruppo 9999 claimed that their speculative design was a configuration of something not yet presently existent. The article argues that this configuration was the not yet established Anthropocene. Hence, the geological concept of the Anthropocene was therefore enabled and evoked by a new ontological understanding regarding the conception of reality and this understanding was materialized in the design projects of Superstudio and Gruppo 9999—as material metaphysics. The design response to the growing environmental crisis in the 1970s thus manifested a new nature that might display the beginning of the very end.