The theme of the World Design Talk (WDT) in Izmir was determined as “Co-living” throughout a series of meetings in coordination with the Izmir Mediterranean Academy, WDO Izmir member organizations (Izmir University of Economics, Department of Industrial Design; Industrial Designers’ Society of Turkey, Izmir Branch; Vestel Electronics), and other design communities from Izmir.

Aziz Kocaoğlu, the mayor of Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, has stated in 2009 during the Izmir Cultural Workshop that: “Izmir has been a civilized city all along, blending a myriad of religions and cultures in mutual respect. To Izmirians, a co-existence or fusion of various cultures is not viewed as a threat but as richness; they cherish the importance of the dynamism and creativity brought about by difference. The modern concept of democracy, which allows each person to live the life and culture that they wish, is inextricably bound with the identity of Izmir and its inhabitants”. Based on this rich and unique character of the city of Izmir and the humanity’s biggest challenges in front of us that are defined by UN SDGs, “Co-living” theme has come forward as calling for both an opportunity and a challenge that would enable a study within a conceptual, global, and local framework from a design perspective.

The prefix “co-” modifies a term by giving a meaning of “together, jointly, mutually; indicating partnership or equality; to the same or a similar degree”. Although “Co-living” is not defined in the dictionaries, it briefly refers to a meaning of “living together”. The term appears to be used in general as a new way of living within a sense of community using shared spaces and facilities, which can also be named as “co-housing”. However, with the World Design Talk in Izmir, we take “Co-living” as a larger concept that is adapted to a city within a global world, and seek for the role of design based on this framework.

Richard Sennett, with his trio of books “The Craftsman” (2008), “Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation” (2012) and “Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City” (2018), focuses on the skills people need to sustain everyday life. His quest is to relate how people shape personal effort, social relations and the physical environment. With a perspective on ‘modern society’s de-skilling people in the conduct of everyday life’, he criticizes that we have more machines in todays’ world but have less idea how to use them well, and have greater network between people as a result of modern forms of communication but have less understanding of how to communicate well. In his book “Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation” (2012), he deepens his focus on responsiveness to others and on the practical application of responsiveness at work or in the community. He takes cooperation as a particular social asset in doing practical work, which requires of people the skill of understanding and responding to one another in order to act together, which is full of difficulty and ambiguity. In his last book, “Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City” (2018), he brings his first two books’ concerns that are personal effort and social relations & cooperation into a physical environment: a city, and focuses on how cities might become better made. He criticizes the urban design as a craft in peril, stating that physically, it is homogenous and rigid in form, and socially, modern built forms are usually weak imprints of personal and shared experience.

Within this background, we take a more human-centered approach and focus on social relations that are embedded in a variety of forms and mediums in order to study the designing of a better city of Izmir as an example in a global world. We have determined five sub-themes to be studied under the “Co-living” theme that are: “Co-living with Nature”, “Co-living within Society”, “Co-living in the City”, “Co-living with Heritage”, and “Co-living with Technology”. The actors and their relations with each other are pursued and studied within these sub-themes through some case studies from Izmir while seeking for a design perspective.

One way of looking at the social relations can correspond to “symbiosis” from the discipline of Biology. “Symbiosis”, meaning “co-living or living together”, is defined as: “the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms (as in commensalism, mutualism, and parasitism,); a cooperative relationship (as between two persons or groups). There are several types or classes of symbiosis: In “Commensalism” one organism benefits and the other is neither harmed nor helped; in “Mutualism” both organisms benefit, further an obligate mutualist cannot survive without its partner and a facultative mutualist can survive on its own; in “Parasitism” one organism (the parasite) benefits and the other (the host) is harmed. As it is stated: “To be successful, a symbiotic relationship requires a great deal of balance. Even parasitism, where one partner is harmed, is balanced so that the host lives long enough to allow the parasite to spread and reproduce”.

This background and the method are attempts to reveal the way we address the “Co-living” theme in WDT in Izmir, so that it can be carried further with other related perspectives.

Outcomes of the Workshops

We have determined five sub-themes for the workshops to be studied under the “Co-living” umbrella theme. They are: “Co-living with Nature“, “Co-living within Society“, “Co-living in the City“, “Co-living with Heritage“, and “Co-living with Technology“.

Within these workshops, the participants will focus on the cases and try to propose statements at various levels: Individual Level, Group Level, Institutional Level (non-governmental), and Governmental Level. They will question what they can do or not do as a designer/woman/citizen etc., in their apartment/street/neighborhood, in their organizations which they belong to, and in their governmental organizations if they belong to any.


  • Izmir Culture Workshop (2009), Izmir Metropolitan Municipality, Izmir Mediterranean Academy, ISBN: 978-975-18-0200-2. Retrieved June 6, 2018, from here.
  • Sennett, R. (2012). Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation. Yale University Press: New Haven.
  • İncirlioğlu, G. (2016). “The Atlas of Izmir/Smyrna”, Meltem: Book of the Izmir Mediterranean Academy, December 2016, Izmir Mediterranean Academy, p.130-136, ISBN-13: 978-975-18-0219-4.
  • co- [Def. 1]. (n.d.). In, Retrieved June 6, 2018, from here.
  • Symbiosis. (n.d.). In Merriam Webster Online, Retrieved June 6, 2018, from here.
  • Examples of Symbiosis, Retrieved June 6, 2018, from here.