The Center for Other Worlds (COW) is an interdisciplinary research centre for design and art, based at Lusófona University. It focuses on the development of perspectives that are not dominant nor imposed by the design discipline—through criticism, speculation and collaboration with various disciplines such as curating, architecture, visual arts, ecology and political theory—having in design an unifying element but rejecting hierarchies between them. The centre’s name makes a reference to the concept of otherness, thereby aiming at challenging universal visions of design and art. The centre’s core mission is therefore inscribed in its name.
Politics, Community and Technology
Investigation into forms of design in and for communities, mapping the social, cultural and political contexts which shape the way design is designed—and in turn, how it designs us back. Concepts such as ‘innovation’ and ‘progress’ are keywords to challenge the infrastructures of design and daily life. This cluster is particularly concerned with issues of labour, self-organisation, the commons, tech industry and internet theory, as well as the politics that frame these areas of activity.
Ecology, Fiction and Pedagogy
This cluster explores fiction and speculation as a contested territory, opening space for pedagogical, curatorial and illustration research. Investigates the applicability of this kind of thinking, methods and prototyping—political, social, economic—while actively working with local communities in an interdisciplinary manner, underpinning an openly public dimension of co-creation.
Decolonisation and Practices of the Global South
In the context of a pluriversal definition of design, and aligned with Lusófona University’s mission, this cluster opens space for research and the practice of design and art from Lusophone countries in the Global South. Challenging hegemonic western visions of design, this cluster promotes alternative models, discourses and realities other than those imposed by design during the 20th century.