Invisible Sustainability: Learning from the Arctic

By Svetlana Usenyuk, Nickolay Garin, Alexandra Rogova and Anna Mukhina.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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This paper is an attempt to make a contribution to the area of environmental and cultural studies by reviewing the sustainable way of living among Arctic indigenous peoples from the design perspective. In the context of the extreme Arctic environment, there is a specific demand for design solutions that are simultaneously human-, cultural- and environmental-centric, in order to keep the land and its people intact, and ensure successful adaptation for newcomers. While the nomadic way of living has been widely acknowledged as sustainable by different fields of science (e.g. Ingold 2011; Stammler 2005; Golovnev 2004; Faegre 1979), there are very few studies clearly concerned with practical aspects of integrating indigenous knowledge and technologies into the contemporary context. In this paper, a team of researchers and teachers from the School of Arctic Design elaborates a sustainable vision of the future of the fast-growing industry of Arctic tourism with a strong emphasis on the traditional knowledge of Arctic indigenous peoples.

Keywords: Arctic, Indigenous Peoples, Sustainability, Design, Tourist Equipment

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.73-86. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 878.344KB).

Dr Svetlana Usenyuk

Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Design, Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland

Svetlana Usenyuk is a postdoctoral researcher and a member of the Empirica Research Group at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The group is concentrated on developing exploratory methods where art and design related activities are utilized in experimental ways as research practice. Prior to that, she was a doctoral student and part-time teacher at the Industrial Design Department, Ural State Academy of Architecture and Art. She graduated as a Ph.D. in 2011 under the supervision of Nickolay Garin. She also took an active role in developing educational concept of the School of Arctic Design at USAAA. Her research interests engage topics such as: human adaptation in extreme environment of polar regions, indigenous cultures, cultural synthesis, physical and cultural mobility, transport vehicles, man-machine interaction, co-creation, and aesthetics.

Dr. Nickolay Garin

Associate Professor, Department of Industrial Design, Ural State Academy of Architecture and Arts, Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation

Nickolay Garin is Professor at the Department of Industrial Design, Ural State Academy of Architecture and Art (USAAA), Ekaterinburg, Russia. He is a researcher, designer and novelist, who has devoted his whole life to the Arctic. He conducted over 30 research expeditions to the Russian North for the purpose to examine the material culture of native peoples. Nickolay Garin is a founder and – to this day – Head of the School of Arctic Design at the USAAA. The focus of this School is on cultural and environmental impacts of human activities in extreme natural conditions, particularly with regard to the Arctic, and with further extension to Outer Space, underwater, deserts, highlands, etc. The purpose is to develop design based research tools, design concepts, and experimental research methods with purpose to establish a platform for multidisciplinary collaboration between the areas of human (social), natural and engineering sciences.

Alexandra Rogova

Doctoral Student, Department of Industrial Design, Ural State Academy of Architecture and Arts, Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation

Alexandra Rogova is MA in industrial design, and currently a doctoral student at the Department of Industrial Design, Ural State Academy of Architecture and Arts. Her research interests include regional/contextual approach to design, with particular reference to the Urals Area. In her own dissertation she is working on re-discovering the region’s creative potential and re-constructing its cultural identity by the means of design. The research aims to deliver a method, which can enhance the attractiveness and business-friendliness of the region as such. The main objective is to develop and test an innovative concept of the ‘New Urals’ as a brand for the entire region.

Anna Mukhina

MA student, Department of Industrial Design, Ural State Academy of Architecture and Arts, Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation

Anna Mukhina is MA in industrial design, Department of Industrial Design, Ural State Academy of Architecture and Arts.