Discursive design in a Scandinavian biodiversity context

How can design contribute to awareness of local biodiversity in the Oslo Fjord area? Students in graphic design at Westerdals Kristiania University College were asked this question and came up with some thought-provoking solutions presented in this post. The starting point was a recently launched report on biological diversity globally. The severe global biodiversity issues led to questions about how such challenges affect us locally in and around Oslo: Naturen krymper.

The student projects were presented as a separate exhibition at the AR@K International Symposium 2020: Artistic Climate(s) in Oslo.

Student project 1: Bevar

In order to spread information about the diminishing local biodiversity, the students Gina Poppe, Hanna Opsahl, Vendela von Schack and Hannah Ringkjøb made an educational program to be used as part of a secular/humanistic confirmation training. The 15-year-old confirmation-kids would receive training materials and a trip to the islands in the Oslo Fjord to experience biological plant diversity or the lack of it.

In Norway, confirmation-kids often get a national costume associated with a location as a gift for their confirmation. Therefore, an Oslo fjord costume has been designed with elements from the endangered local plant Northern Dragonhead. This plant grows few places in the world and is Norway’s international responsibility to protect.

The process of getting the national costume measured and sewn takes time. Going to a tailors shop for the Dragonhead costume is part of the pedagogy to be reminded of the responsibility we have for local biodiversity. This design project consists of visual identity, teaching materials, the Dragonhead costume, gift wrapping for the costume, the tailor’s shop and a website.




Student project 2: Redlist

Inger Marie Gunderhuset and Maren Holte designed Redlist, a mobile game where the player takes care of vulnerable plants around the Oslo Fjord. The game itself is playful and fun and will introduce the user to local biodiversity. The player may experience the possible extinction of local plants if they are not taken care of properly.

Wireframes of the game.
The Redlist exhibition.



Student project 3: Norwegian Plant Diversity

What can be done by the local authorities if alien invasive plants are allowed to outcompete endangered species, the students Andreas Johannessen, Knut Magnus Lie and Christopher Bjerkvik wonder?

They suggest governmental deploying of domes that protect endangered plants from the surrounding competitors. The idea is that the domes could have a discursive effect in that they interfere with the experience of the outdoor life in Norway, assuming the public does not want this.



Student project 4: Curam

Plants have for centuries been the source of medicines. Today there are at least 120 important drugs derived from plants in use.
The students Fride Gjedebo Gjertsen, Johannes Sveen Ekrem, Flemming Ellingsen and Tim Allum Nielsen explore the possibilities of new medicines from plants and ask; what if there was a cure for breast cancer or Alzheimer’s disease hidden in today’s endangered plants? To communicate this possibility, the students made medicine packaging and graphics for these possible future medicines.