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Exhibition: ‘Hotel Symbiogenesis’ by Designmatter X Hypothetical Studios

Text by CLOT Magazine

Hotel Symbiogenesis, exhibition view

Hotel Symbiogenesis unfolds a story of an island in the near-apocalyptic future in which various animal species, including humans, coexist symbiotically. In a speculative hotel room, a collection of artifacts made of fur and leather of the fictional animals is presented. Hotel Symbiogenesis rethinks the human-nonhuman-animal relationships by questioning how the human species have valued animal-derived clothing material.

The project aimed to create alternative mythology that does not deny the autonomy and subjectivity of nonhuman animals, specifically concerning their skin and fur consumption. Hypothetical Studios speculatively constructed an island and the human and nonhuman animals dwelling there. The island is a giant, sympoietic cell that survives the nearly apocalyptic time, operating through the symbiosis of its dwellers. Humans are not exceptional in this relationship.

Various rituals of the island’s human residents have co-evolved with the animals in a way that is far from one-directional and exploitative. For example, they make their garments and objects using materials derived from the animals, which gives us a glance at how those humans cohabit with the animals. Designmatter and Hypothetical Studios invite the guests to a hotel on the island and provide sensorial performative experiences around the residents’ artifacts. Especially open during the COVID-19 outbreak, Hotel Symbiogenesis attempts to challenge the anthropocentric worldview still predominant among us.

Hotel Symbiogenesis, fabric detail

The first major axis of the project was story writing. During this phase, Noam Youngrak Son, a design-fiction creator based in Eindhoven, created five fictional animal species and elaborated on their ways of living. The concept of each animal developed into a tale about an ecosystem. Eventually, it became a mythology about an island in which various animal species, including a group of humans, cooperate, co-evolve and withstand ecological disasters.

The narrative is driven by the following animals: Green Rodents, Color-adapting Reptile, Disaster-warning Birds, Bioluminescent Predator Squids, and Memory Urchins. The exhibition proposes a combination of speculative leathers, objects, and stories by having the theme of a hotel room for island visitors.
The hotel room, a geodesic dome, symbolizes the island and the biosphere, and a visitor will be placed as a temporary dweller in it.

Due to the cancellation of the real-life edition of Dutch Design Week 2020, the physical version of the exhibition is held independently from the DDW. The audiovisual experience performed around the installation is filmed and reformatted into an online exhibition platform presented as a part of the virtual Dutch Design Week 2020.

(Media courtesy of Designmatter X Hypothetical Studios)
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