SJ Bowden MFA Collaborative Design Thesis 2021

A New Eco-Kinship

With nature at an increasing distance, considering new ways to appreciate plants within our reach can keep us tethered to nature and sustain our well-being. Houseplants have served many purposes throughout history, representing varied societal circumstances, including the “botanical boom” we are currently experiencing. This thesis explores a variety of research and design methods to uncover the unique relationship between people and their houseplants, and investigates the potential to use this relationship for a closer connection to plant-life. To understand this relationship, an online survey was distributed to houseplant owners through relevant social media communities. Participants were recruited for video interviews and a small group took part in an individual week-long journaling activity about their direct and indirect houseplant interactions.

Results from this research uncovered how the human-houseplant relationship reflects our capacity to intimately connect with nature. The variety of interactions houseplant owners have with their plants ranged beyond basic care to include talking to their plants, naming them, and seeing them as a means of emotional support.

These insights were used to explore how we might amplify this human-houseplant connection through a design project aimed at providing houseplant owners a new perspective on plant vitality. The outcome is a device that measures and maps the variance of conductivity within a plant over the course of approximately twelve hours, representing an aspect of the liveliness of plants that is beyond human perception.

Alicia Navarrette MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2015

Jake Mcintire MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2015

Jessica Stein MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2015

Jessica Riehl MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2015

Olivia Guethling CD MFA Practicum 2015

Crystal Rome MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2015

Emilie Skytta MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2014

Peter Tichnell MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2014

Jacob Richardson MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2014

Katie Mays CD MFA Practicum Spring 2013

Emma Conley CD MFA Practicum Spring 2013

Shannon Paine MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2015

Melody Rowell MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2015

Luke Zimmerman MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2016

Matthew McCasland MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2016

Asa Wright MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2016

Colin Cheong MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2016

Celina Coppetti Collaborative Design MFA Practicum 2017

Joel Newman Collaborative Design MFA Practicum 2017

Michelle Vorce Collaborative Design MFA Practicum 2017

Amanda Schurr Collaborative Design MFA Practicum 2017

Kailey Fry MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2015

Alicia DeMellier MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2018

Katherine Mitchell MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2018

Amelia Bauerly MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2019

Andrew Mears MA Design Systems Thesis 2019

Ophir El-Boher MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2019

Amber Marsh MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2019

Mijounga Chang MA Design Systems Thesis 2020

Emilie Jensen MFA Collaborative Design Thesis 2020

Audrey Lewis MFA Collaborative Design Thesis 2020

Leah Payne MFA Collaborative Design Practicum 2020

Katie Scott MFA Collaborative Design Thesis 2020

SJ Bowden MFA Collaborative Design Thesis 2021

Samantha Caruthers-Knight MFA Collaborative Design Thesis 2021