Objects, Practices, Experiences and Networks









Stories in a Beespoon: Exploring Future Folklore through Design

Deborah Maxwell, Liz Edwards, Toby Pillatt, Niamh Downing

University of York, Lancaster University, University of Sheffield, Falmouth University


Keywords: future folklore, codesign, storytelling, objects


This paper explores the role and potential for design as process, artefact and experience to help frame and address societal problems. We consider this through examining a future folklore dialogical object, designed to stimulate conversation and question assumptions. Beekeeping is a particularly rich context with which to adopt this methodological approach, given the significance of global threats to insect pollination aligned with beekeeping’s extensive cultural heritage. By drawing on past narratives and contemporary knowledge and practices, the Beespoon, a small copper spoon representing the amount of honey a single bee can make, was codesigned as an experience that actively engaged people with concepts of work, value and pollination. Our design process oscillated across past, present and future stories – the Beespoon as future folklore artefact and experience reflects this complexity, operating across time and value systems to provide new ways to think about how we perceive and understand bees.

This paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

download the paper (PDF)

Cite this paper: Maxwell, D., Edwards, L., Pillatt, T., Downing, N. (2016) Stories In a Beespoon: Exploring Future Folklore Through Design. Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016.

This paper will be presented at DRS2016, find it in the conference programme

Take part in the discussion: Your comments