Dezeen Magazine

Watch the video of Paola Antonelli's keynote lecture at Dezeen Day

Our natural world is "fixable, but it will never be the same" said Paola Antonelli at our Dezeen Day conference. Watch Antonelli discuss design's response to impending extinction in the first movie from the event.

Antonelli, MoMA's senior curator of architecture and design, kicked off Dezeen's inaugural conference on 30 October with a keynote that addressed the inevitability of human extinction, and the importance of "thinking about our legacy".

"We will become extinct," she said. "We don't have control over that fact, but we have some control over the when and quite a bit of control over the how."

Anger can be a stronger engine than angst when it comes to humans taking action to ensure a better future for the planet, Antonelli said, praising teenage climate-activist Greta Thunberg's "sense of action".

Paola Antonelli Dezeen Day video
Paola Antonelli gave the keynote lecture at Dezeen Day

The other keynote speakers to follow during Dezeen Day, which was sponsored by Grohe and took place at at BFI Southbank, were speculative architect Liam Young and artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg.

Young argued that architects can have a greater influence on the future of urban environments if they apply their skills to designing video games and adopt film-making technologies, whilst Ginsberg said that a better future might be one without humans.

In her keynote, Antonelli introduced a number of projects from her Broken Nature exhibition at the Triennale di Milano earlier this year, including Neri Oxman's The Silk Pavilion project and Aki Inomata's Think Evolution #1.

Paola Antonelli Dezeen Day video
In the lecture Antonelli discussed responses to impending extinction

The curator told the audience that was wanted the exhibition to make visitors think beyond the near future, as well as the complex relationships between interconnecting global networks.

"It's really hard to have a feeling in your stomach of what will happen generations away," she said. "We wanted people to leave having a sense of that, even just an imagination."

"We them to have a sense of the complexity of the systems that we live in, without being scared by them," she continued. "To feel that complexity can be our friend, if we learn to manage the tools that can make sense of it, if we learn to be critical."

Paola Antonelli Dezeen Day video
Following the lecture Antonelli spoke to Marcus Fairs

Asked after the talk by Dezeen founder Marcus Fairs – who sets out why Dezeen decided to move from the digital space to the physical at the start of the video – whether the title of the exhibition is inherently pessimistic, Antonelli said that it would in fact be pessimistic to be in denial.

"I mean pessimistic in a different way and instead knowing it and doing something beautiful out of it is the best," she said. "Regarding the idea of 'broken nature', it is fixable, everything is fixable, but it will never be the same."

Antonelli agreed that the circular economy is "incredibly exciting" when asked by Fairs whether the idea of an economy that can grow in harmony with the planet is a more progressive solution than accepting that humankind's time is up.

"Let's find all the good, necessary ways to have a better sense of responsibility and a better economy on Earth," said Antonelli. "I am against self-annihilation and going out with a bang. Let's do it well."