Design Anthropology in Context : An Introduction to Design Materiality and Collaborative Thinking book cover
1st Edition

Design Anthropology in Context
An Introduction to Design Materiality and Collaborative Thinking

ISBN 9781138917996
Published December 30, 2020 by Routledge
270 Pages

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Book Description

This book explores the broad territory of design anthropology, covering key approaches, ways of working and areas of debate and tension. It understands design as fundamentally human centred and argues for a design anthropology based primarily on collaboration and communication. Adam Drazin suggests the most important collaborative knowledges which design anthropology develops are heuristic, emerging as engagements between fieldwork sites and design studios. The chapters draw on material culture literature and include a wide range of examples of different projects and outputs. Highlighting the importance of design as a topic in the study of contemporary culture, this is valuable reading for students and scholars of anthropology and design as well as practitioners.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Design and Human Lives

Part I: Why, What and How?

Chapter 1: Why should anthropology and design engage?

Chapter 2: What is design culture?

Chapter 3: What is design materiality?

Chapter 4: How do design anthropologists work?

Part II: Heuristic Ways of Knowing

Chapter 5: Contexts

Chapter 6: Value

Chapter 7: Futures

Chapter 8: Archaeologies of the Future


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Adam Drazin is an associate professor at University College London, where he convenes the Studio of Material Life. His other work explores cultures of home and care, the anthropology of Romania and the new materials revolution.


"In this wide-ranging book Drazin draws on deep understanding and experience of the multiple contexts in which design operates. By presenting a critical view of the promise and possibilities of design anthropology he offers a manifesto for its role in creating a well-thought human world. A timely and important contribution to the field"

Simon Roberts, Stripe Partners and Board President, EPIC.

"Drazin provides an excellent and inspired exploration of the field of design anthropology; accessible to both students and those in related transdisciplinary practice, this book will become a vital reference source."

Professor Alison J. Clarke, University of Applied Arts. Vienna

"We live in a designed world; a world aware of its own designerly preoccupations; a world where design-as-solution-to-something is under conceptualized and all too often unexamined in workaday product and service development. In this comprehensive volume, Adam Drazin, provides a framework for illuminating the work of material culture (the things of design) in social and cultural life and the work of anthropological analysis in effecting change in design concepts and outcomes. Design prototypes are conceptual propositions, Drazin suggests, about relationships among people and things in particular social, cultural, political and temporal contexts. They are good for constituents and designers alike to think with. In creating productive collaborations with constituents, providing sociocultural interpretation of what is going on in the field (everyday life bounded by organizational interests), and using prototypes to think with and through, anthropological work mediates meaning-making between designers and constituencies, so that designed outcomes become ways to assert, subvert, suggest, intervene, frustrate status quos and provoke debate. With great case examples and thoughtful, heuristic approaches to doing the work of collaborative critique, Drazin offers a discipline a way to be on the ground, practicing, navigating, and changing."

Rita Denny, Executive Director, EPIC (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference)