Design and Anthropology: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Design and Anthropology

1st Edition

Edited by Wendy Gunn, Jared Donovan


284 pages

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Design and Anthropology challenges conventional thinking regarding the nature of design and creativity, in a way that acknowledges the improvisatory skills and perceptual acuity of people. Combining theoretical investigations and documentation of practice based experiments, it addresses methodological questions concerning the re-conceptualisation of the relation between design and use from both theoretical and practice-based positions. Concerned with what it means to draw 'users' into processes of designing and producing this book emphasises the creativity of design and the emergence of objects in social situations and collaborative endeavours. Organised around the themes of perception and the user-producer, skilled practices of designing and using, and the relation between people and things, the book contains the latest work of researchers from academia and industry, to enhance our understanding of ethnographic practice and develop a research agenda for the emergent field of design anthropology. Drawing together work from anthropologists, philosophers, designers, engineers, scholars of innovation and theatre practitioners, Design and Anthropology will appeal to anthropologists and to those working in the fields of design and innovation, and the philosophy of technology and engineering.


’The book is innovatory, ambitious and important. It asks a radical question: What methodological transformations in design practices are necessary to build better relations between designing and using?�. In the text distinctions between design, production and use, between perception, creativity and skill, are questioned, while anthropology, engineering, management, archaeology, philosophy, theatre and communication studies are challenged to find a common language of engagement. Design anthropology� is a burgeoning field and this book is a significant development.’ Nigel Rapport, University of St Andrews, UK ’How to think about design? This is one of the key challenges of our future-obsessed times and this book is a provocative contribution to the debate. Focusing on the concrete and the mundane whilst sharpening the conceptual tools for understanding sociotechnical change, its essays thoroughly complicate the popular but misleading notion that design equals experts solving given problems.’ Eeva Berglund, author of Knowing Nature, Knowing Science and Legacies of Empire and Spatial Divides ' … this book to be of great importance because it speaks about previously unwritten aspects on how design can be understood and used in our everyday lives.' Qualitative Research

About the Editors

Wendy Gunn is Associate Professor of Design Anthropology at the University of Southern Denmark. Jared Donovan is Lecturer in Interaction Design at Queensland University of Technology, Australia.

About the Series

Anthropological Studies of Creativity and Perception

The books in this series explore the relations, in human social and cultural life, between perception, creativity and skill. Their common aim is to move beyond established approaches in anthropology and material culture studies that treat the inhabited world as a repository of complete objects, already present and available for analysis. Instead these works focus on the creative processes that continually bring these objects into being, along with the persons in whose lives they are entangled. All creative activities entail movement or gesture, and the books in this series are particularly concerned to understand the relations between these creative movements and the inscriptions they yield. Likewise in considering the histories of artefacts, these studies foreground the skills of their makers-cum-users, and the transformations that ensue, rather than tracking their incorporation as finished objects within networks of interpersonal relations. This series is interdisciplinary in orientation, with the concern of the titles always being with the practice of interdisciplinarity: on ways of doing anthropology with other disciplines, rather than doing an anthropology of these subjects. Through this anthropology with focus, they aim to achieve an understanding that is at once holistic and processual, dedicated not so much to the achievement of a final synthesis as to opening up lines of inquiry.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General