‘Breathful’ design in breathless times

Markus Wernli, Britta Boyer

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This position paper seeks to address the operational logic that created the conditions for the pandemic to take hold. Grasping the crisis as an opportunity for an anthropological inquiry across disciplines, this exploration firmly anchors design inside the social commitment required by breathing bodies and life-enabling atmospheres. By infusing the selfunderstanding of design with experiences and conceptions from Eastern and Western ‘breathwork’ practices the adaptation strategy in uncertainty shifts from perpetuating the status quo towards the creative reinterpretation of internal priorities. It also changes the nature of our projects, from making to enacting, from preprogrammed solutions to earthly engagement, from interfacing with inert matter to caring for living matters. Taking our universally shared breath as the resounding call for action, ‘breathful’ design is about the never-finished, perpetually opening task of persisting through bodily vigilance, diligence, and
self-critical forsight for ‘knowing what to do when no one knows what to do’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-186
Number of pages12
JournalStrategic Design Research Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Breathing
  • Atmospheres
  • Covid-19
  • Environmental embodiment
  • Enlivening design
  • Design anthropology


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