Paola Antonelli is, like many, a fervent believer in the inevitability of human extinction, which does not imply the destruction of the planet, but the destruction of the means that make human life on earth sustainable. However, she does not believe that the end must necessarily be dramatic or apocalyptic. In fact, she believes in the power of design to facilitate and mitigate the inevitable transition. This idea is precisely what she proposes in the curatorship of Broken Nature, an exhibition released last year at the Triennale de Milano.

After two and a half decades of working in the curatorship department at the MoMA in New York, and reaching the position of Director of the Department of Architecture and Design for the museum, Antonelli surprises with this personal project. Broken Nature is a collaboration between an extensive group of researchers and curators which delves into fields beyond architecture and urbanism. As an exhibition and a body of research, Broken Nature explores linguistic, sociological and political fields in order to find the connections between these disciplines and the impact they generate on climate change, the rise of population growth, food production and biodiversity.

Broken Nature at the same time brings together various experts in a series of symposiums in Milan and New York City to discuss possible solutions and tools for ‘reparations’. At a time when human existence is threatened by countless phenomena, Antonelli suggests that restorative design can both prolong humanity’s time on earth and soften the changeover to whatever comes after us. In her words, creativity can help lead us to an “elegant ending” that allows the next dominant species to think of us as beings with a legacy worth remembering.

In May 2020, Paola Antonelli returns to the What Design Can Do stage, this time in the Mexican capital at WDCD Mexico GNP. You can’t miss her!