Critical Design Cycle: summary of First Participative Workshop about Internal Contamination

Last Friday (March 1, 2013) at the Mandarina Space, we had our first participatory workshop to give shape to the participants’ ideas about Internal Contamination. As you know, this topic was presented by Dr. Miquel Porta (18/01/2013), an internationally recognized researcher and an expert on the field and after his presentation a first debate took place. The goal of friday’s session was to begin a process of critical and speculative design around the concepts and ideas that popped up during that talk.

The workshop, led by Ramon Sagüensa (La Mandarina de Newton), began with an inspiration exercise for the participants. We challenged each of them individually to complete the question ‘What if …?’ with ideas, questions or concerns that came to their minds, related with the topic Internal Contamination. They had to reflect on the positive and negative aspects of it. In just 10 minutes many ideas were generated: What if we changed our lifestyle (if we stop eating meat, if we abandon the urban lifestyle), What if we could measure in detail our internal contamination levels, or the levels of toxics in the products we consume?, What if we could eliminate the toxics of our body, if we could recycle or metabolize them?, What would happen if there existed a region in the world without contamination?, What if contamination were something good for our health, if it could expand our live expectancy? What if internal contamination levels were visible? … and much more!


This individual exercise was the starting point for the actual teamwork. Now, participants discussed together these ideas and the dilemmas created by their interplay. For that, they stuck the post-its on a panel and, with the participation of all, reorganized them by topics or concepts. Eventually, an agreement was reached and several clusters of ideas emerge: food, communication and information, utopia, methodology, and disposal of PTCs (persistent toxic compounds). From here, each participant chose the topic that found most interesting and in this way the working groups were formed (four in total).

Then, we started the ideation phase. In each group, participants discussed and identified the ideas they wanted to explore. With the working ideas defined, the participants began to give shape to their proposals and build their ‘prototypes’.


The first group, who had chosen the topic ‘Food’, devised ‘The BNQ – The Body Whitening’. They proposed a treatment to ‘withen’ the body internally. With an amazing pill one would be able to clean the body from internal contaminants and this would be reflected in one’s outward beauty: ‘Clean on the inside, beautiful on the outside’.

The second group, based on the topic ‘utopia’, proposed a comics/animation campaign – ‘PTCs Superpowers’ – in which the stories would revolve around a family of characters who had superpowers due to the accumulation of PTCs in their bodies. The third group, who chose the theme ‘elimination of PTCs’ created ‘Sintox’: a set of pills developed by a pharmaceutical company (‘Mandarinartis’) and marketed to a fairly high cost, but that would be able to eliminate completely all your internal toxics. Finally, the fourth group, inspired by the topics ‘information and communication’ and ‘methodology’, proposed a next generation device, the ‘Anxiety Machine’. This product would be comprised of a pill with a PTCs’ sensor that you would swallow. Travelling through your body it would detect your internal levels of PTCs and transmit that information to a square-shaped personal and portable device.

This device would then show the toxic results, identify the most likely diseases that one would develop as a consequence of the level and type of contamination, and it would also offer an option to share the results within a social network (a kind of facebook with the contaminants’ profile of each user).

During the presentation of the proposals, there was also an interesting exchange of ideas and suggestions between the groups. It was Friday evening and dinner time was approaching, so we had to end up the session. Once again, we received a very positive feedback from participants, an extra motivation for us to continue organizing these kind of brainstorming, creative and multidisciplinary co-creation sessions.

This was the first workshop within the Critical Design Cycle about Internal Contamination. We will continue working on these proposals on the 5th of April (Friday), 19:30 at the Mandarina Space (as always, we will create a registration form on Evenbrite). Remember that these sessions are free and open to all of you willing to participate. And not just for those that came to the previous sessions, but to anyone interested and eager to share their ideas in a co-creative way.

We will keep you informed!

Remember that you can check the summaries of the past sessions of the cycle in our blog and the presentations’ videos in our Youtube channel.

You can also find all the photos of the workshop in our Facebook page.


Critical Design Cycle: summary of Miquel Porta's Presentation

On friday, January 18th, Dr. Miquel Porta, an internationally recognized researcher and an expert on the field ‘Internal Contamination’, was at the Mandarina Space to lead a debate within our Critical Design Cycle.

We discussed about the different aspects of this complex problem that affects our society. ‘We are all contaminated!’ highlighted Miquel Porta.

The existence of persistent toxic compounds in our bodies is a reality. We may not all be conscious, but we ‘ingest’ contaminants when we breath, eat, drink… Needless to say, the presentation generated an interesting debate between the participants. In the end, we challenged them to reflect on the subjects discussed and to write down in post-its the positive and negative aspects of the topic, their doubts, worries… Very interesting ideas came out! We will now continue to work on these ideas on the next activity of the Critical Design Cycle, which will take place on March 1st. It will be the first participatory workshop of the cycle with which we aim to begin a process of critical and speculative design based on the ideas that arose during this talk.

Remember that you can watch the full presentation of Miquel Porta in our YouTube channel. Here you have the first video (of six):

In the channel, you can also find the presentations of Roger Ibars and Lisa Ma, the two designers that we had the pleasure to have at our space in December. They discussed the concepts behind critical and speculative design.

Check all the photos of the session in our Facebook page.


Critical Design Cycle: Presentation on Internal Contamination with Miquel Porta

Next Friday, January 18th, at our space in Gràcia, we will have a first presentation about the central topic of our cycle on critical design.

The focus is on “Internal Contamination”, i.e., the existance of persistant toxic materials in our body due to our interaction with our increasingly complex artificial environment. The whole problem will be presented by Dr. Miquel Porta, an internationally renowned researcher and expert in these subjects.
This is topic with a lot of implications, interwoven causes and complex webs of interests and behaviours. We thought it was a difficult “wicked problem” and we have decided to approach it from the perspective of “Critical Design” in order to create dilemmatic objects and open up a project to include designers, scientists, science communicators, educators and plain citizens.
The project is organized around several presentations and workshops that will take place from January to April 2013.

This is the first one and you are invited to join. If you are interested, please register through Eventbrite:

We expect to meet you at Espai Mandarina!.

The presenter.

We have the honor to have with us one of the most renowned experts in “internal contamination”: Dr. Miquel Porta.

Miquel Porta (Barcelona, ​​1957) is a physician and epidemiologist. He has promoted the integration of biological, clinical and socio-environmental knowledge in research and teaching of health sciences.

He is currently head of the Clinical and Molecular Epidemiology of Cancer Unit at the Hospital del Mar Institute for Medical Research (IMIM) in Barcelona. He is also Professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health in the School of Medicine of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), and Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His research focuses on: 1) the clinical and molecular epidemiology of pancreatic cancer, 2) ‘diagnostic delay’ and early detection of cancer, and 3) the health effects of persistent toxic compounds. He belongs to the editorial boards of several international journals, and has published over 300 scientific papers in international journals. He has taught in numerous American and European universities, including Imperial College (London) and Harvard, where he enjoyed a sabbatical. He has been president of the Spanish Society of Epidemiology, of the European Epidemiology Federation, and of Científicos por el Medio Ambiente.

Miquel Porta believes that scientific leadership must be projected beyond the academic world and, therefore, he intervenes occasionally in the media, such as the newspaper El País. His latest non-scientific article (whose title is “Las quiero a morir”) is à propos Spotify and the massive enjoyment of music (published in the January-February 2013 issue of  the journal ”Claves de Razón Práctica”).

進化 -Jinhuà: from image to science, from science to design

A collaboration between La Mandarina de Newton and the Science Section of the Barcelona Ateneu. 



Looking around the world



Press clipping

Working Groups


@CoCreatingCult Tweets

Follow @CoCreatingCult on twitter.