Glasgow Innovation School Product Design

Pauline Barbier


Innovation Design Prize

I am a french multidisciplinary designer. In between Art and Design, my approach is conceptual and tends to provoke discussion and raise questions about contemporary social and environmental issues through diverse media. I am concerned about interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration between art, design, science and philosophy. With an interest in the interaction between the human body and its environment,  whether through material experimentation (textile, natural element, waste…), photography, videos, or illustrations, I imagine alternative scenarios that act as catalysts for change.

On Human Relationship with Plants: Beyond Plant Blindness.

Collaborative Works
Collaborative Futures
Professing Practice

On Human Relationship with Plants: Beyond Plant Blindness.

How can design help to enhance our relationship with plants and pay more attention to them in order to consider them as living beings with their own value as opposed to utilitarian instruments for human consumption ?

Plants are vital to our survival on Earth. However, as a society, we continue to be blind to them and exploit them as an inexhaustible supply. Overtime, plants have been overlooked due to their radical alterity. The anthropocentric vision has led to an instrumentalisation of them, assuming that plants have no value outside their use for humankind and demonstrating a narrow type of understanding of them. For some years now, there has been a growing craze for indoor plants, which has become even more pronounced with the corona virus crisis and forecasts growth until 2026. Is this a phenomenon or a real desire to establish a relationship with plant life? Plants are taken for granted and seeing them as commodities has led to ecological, social and environmental issues. Why do we not see ourselves as equal or recognise our interdependence with other living things such as plants?

There is an urgent need to reconsider our relationship with plants and as designers there is an opportunity to shift perspective toward reciprocity and recognition of their right to exist as opposed to considering them only as raw materials.


The project is a set of three hybrid pots that act as links and facilitators of a conversation between plants and humans focusing on spending quality time, observation methodologies and listening. It addresses the problem of plant blindness and acknowledges attention as a doorway towards achieving balance between humans and non-humans for a more sustainable world.

The objects propose to look at plants differently and explore new ways of interacting with them, focusing on enhancing a personal relationship with them and being more attentive to their physiological aspects. The idea is to make people understand the plant system on a micro level, which could lead to having more sensitivity and respect towards plants on a macro level too.

The project takes place in the domestic environment where the objectification of plants plays a key role; as well as in public spaces such as galleries or botanical gardens with an educational and reflective mission toward decolonizing plants and making the plant blindness issue accessible and tangible.

«Since it is our responsibility to create an aesthetic with plants, how do we live with this aesthetic and how can we give more agency to the plant?»

Dawn Sanders, Associate Professor and Researcher at University of Gothenburg

Plants emit ultrasounds and their frequency increase when the plant is understress such a drought. The Phono-Pot becomes a tool to respond better to plants water needs by listening to them.
The Stool-Pot brings you face to face with the plant and invites you to a conversation through observation. This object can also be used along with sketchbook to draw the plant and focus on details even more.
The Lazzy-Pot proposes a new perspective on plants from underneath while emphasizing on comfort. This shift in perspective invites curiosity and allows to build appreciation and knowledges from another angle.

This year the conditions have been particular due to covid. This video gives an overview of the making process and home workshop.

To test my concept, I designed an engagement to facilitate an encounter between humans and plants. The experience was conducted with few people. Above are some of the participants' feedback.

This video gives you a digital experience of my home physical exhibition.

Collaborative Futures

In this collaborative project, four students build on their range of experiences, having returned from studying abroad in different countries and institutions as part of the Master of European Design programme (MEDes).

Our project, whose full title is Glasgow’s Future Stories: Social Innovation & Participatory Democracy in 2030 represents a multidisciplinary journey rooted in Glasgow. It’s a joint effort between Glasgow’s Centre for Civic Innovation and the Glasgow School of Art.

Exploring the idea of participatory democracy means offering a more collaborative role for citizens, enabling them to interact and work directly with public sector organisations, as well as making their own decisions about how their local communities are governed.

In looking beyond traditional interpretations of decision-making, the project looks at democracy as an everyday experience, focusing on spontaneous neighbourhood interactions and informal networks, and their contribution to larger, centralised power structures. Central to the project’s investigation is the theme of trust – the key means to maintaining equitable relationships between citizens and organisations.

“It’s difficult to have a common voice. People need to feel that they are in dialogue, that they are part of something. Storytelling and Creative ways of engaging can build this trust and connection with the community”

Participant, expert workshop session

By listening to stories told to us about resilience and adaptability in the face of a pandemic, we speculate the future by translating these stories into 2030. By the end of the project, new citizen roles emerge as part of an ecosystem of experience, interacting with designed artefacts and tools to make Glasgow’s future stories embraceable; tangible. Explore the page below to find out more.

Professing Practice

Professing Practice is a joint endeavour between GSA and the Glasgow Clyde College Associate Student Scheme which represents one of the multiple pathways that helps enable enrolment at GSA. One of the aims of this scheme widening access for Scottish-domiciled students and providing equal opportunities for college students. This project is one of the touchpoints of this relationship, which culminates in a one-day workshop between 5th year Product Design students and the design-focused associate students. The project has been around for a number of years, but 2020 had to address a new set of circumstances and respond to new learning environments and explore tools for remote engagement.

This year, four GSA students from the Masters’ of European Design co-designed and led two working sessions remotely. The first focused on a co-learning experience, arming participants with vocabulary and encouraging the process of doing, reflecting and iterating through visual language to express their own practice and skills. The second introduced a diverse overview of the design field as well as offering perspectives about what it means to work in different design environments. Both sessions encouraged the student participants to develop a level of criticality and to understand that creativity and inspiration can be generated from unusual routines.

“Each year the MEDes students approach this project in a new and innovative way. This was the first group challenged by a fully online delivery of the workshops and they coped incredibly well by making the most of the technology available to them. They put the students at ease immediately which helped them to fully engage with the tasks they were set. The workshops were well considered, touched on a range of issues specific to the student group and were delivered with empathy and enthusiasm”

Elizabeth Beidler, Progression Manager, GSA

Sketches from different stages of the project - from planning, meeting and facilitating a making exercise, along with some of the feedback from our participants.