The Shared Sequester is a newsletter about design as it relates to systems transition, existential risk, equity, and ethics.
Who are you? What do you do?
I’m Irina. My background is in graphic and industrial design, but I’ve branched off the main road enough times to end up in this nebulous and nascent field I’m calling “systems transition design.” It can involve scribbling and mapping, kerning and tweaking, sanding and sawing, debating and listening, measuring and graphing, composing and carving—all in service of closing the gap between a hands-on design practice and a clear theory of societal change. More of that messiness at irinavw.xyz
What kind of content will I find here?
① Essays and diagrams from my Master’s thesis research, written in the depths of 2020 pandemic lockdown. While every academic thesis is an individualized struggle of epic proportions, I felt my design project didn’t fit into the format—now I know it couldn’t. In retrospect, the strength of the thesis was its tortured justification for why it wasn’t enough. It interrogates designers’ perceived role in addressing complex systemic issues. It calls for an updated understanding of what design ethics demand of us in the 21st century context of existential threat, global inequality, and the momentum of exponential growth. Excerpts published here will reflect the logic of that discontent and begin to describe some alternative, albeit primitive, frameworks.
② Reflections from various stages of my Fulbright research in Finland (2022-2023), which involves co-creating charismatic objects for a systems design approach to climate change mitigation in the Arctic. (In other words, it’s a real-world application of the ideas in my thesis—I wonder how that’ll match up.)
③ Past project postmortems and speculation about future pursuits, as relevant to the themes of this newsletter: systems transition, existential risk, and design ethics.
What’s up with the name?
The Shared Sequester recalls a project advocating for translating the climate change mitigation potential of carbon sequestration into socially beneficial and politically empowering realities. The design field sinks attention and funding into commercial markets, academic silos, private services; but countering the twin feedback loops of rising greenhouse gas emissions and unevenly distributed economic growth requires amplifying the public sector and structurally disadvantaged populations. While the main concern of this newsletter isn’t carbon sequestration, many of my ideas and inquiries about systems design grew out of the topic. Climate change is perhaps today’s most relevant framework—all other complex issues are intertwined with it, if not nested within it. On a lighter note, the name underscores my resolve to share some long-sequestered writing!