At Agency in Design we, as respectful designers, adhere to culturally informed protocols and principles for respectfully entering the space of Indigenous Knowledge. In this, we acknowledge all things as being in relation to Country, and then position ourselves accordingly. Like other Indigenous Knowledge informed designers, we present this from within an ontological security that recognises Indigenous Knowledge as our guiding agent. In this space, we do not need to explicitly orient ourselves, and our routines, to appropriately position Indigenous Knowledge within any given design context, as our practice, expressed as our routines, already emerges from within this Indigenous Knowledge context. In turn, our practice recognises the shape and nature of the whole context. This is what empowers us to engage and enrich organisations though Indigenous Knowledge informed Design. The act of doing the work, aligns all of us with the work, and due to Indigenous Knowledge’s bias towards deep equity (Sheehan, 2011), such an alignment ensures that this way of doing will sustain. This relational alignment builds enterprise that belongs with the organisations with which we work and not to us. This enterprise is a given organisation’s ability to choose what to be and how to act; it grows to hold the approaches and routines through which they can operate, translate, and articulate.
It is their agency.
This is what we seek to empower through the relational process of Design we enact. To reveal, and support, the growth of an organisation’s agency, then demonstrate how this agency and the process of Design are related; and, ultimately, how this relationship is experienced through the visual. This is our understanding of ‘co-Design’ whereby a visual mediator, in accord with distinct Design routines, works to recognise the design capacity of everything in any given context. Through working with a mediating visual, we can empower individual agents to see their potential, so they can collaborate to position organisations to conceptualise possibilities and locate these in relation to current practice.
The visual is a fundamental aspect of being human and of Indigenous ways of being, knowing, seeing and doing, as a result, Indigenous Knowledge, as a design driven epistemology and is fundamentally human (Sheehan, 2004; 2011). As respectful designers, informed by Indigenous knowledge, we work with the visual not only because it is emergent from Country, but because it has the capacity to generate an orienting language (Sheehan, 2011) to represent patterns of relation. Through working with the visual, we can support organisation to express their knowledge as something that is alive and Placed, layered, patterned and interactive. Through a respectful design, such a process can reveal the patterns of knowledge that Country holds and position our design interactions relationally across all things.
This is our respectful Design practice. One that recognises the agency of all things; acknowledging the origins of an organisations work, its place in a broader context and its connections with staff and community. As a result, at Agency in Design our drive is to support the growth of agents. To help reveal the capacity that exists within a place and further foster this to enable organisations to empower their collective agency so they can identify where they want to go. To create design that fits with our clients, but importantly, work with our clients to create design that fits in accord with all things. Such an approach transcends transactional approaches to design. It is more than delivering a product. It is an interactive process of relation that focuses on nurturing strong design communities that seek to support and enrich ‘all things’ in mutually enhancing ways (Sheehan, 2011).
Source: Sheehan, N. (2004). Indigenous knowledge and higher education: Instigating relational education in a neocolonial context (St. Lucia, Qld.).