Design Anthropology

As a transdisciplinary area of research and practice, Design Anthropology is not located in any one field or area of expertise, but is representative of a whole spectrum of diverse relationships that have historically formed between the fields of design and anthropology, as well as other intersecting fields. This group was formed to follow these broader fields, subfields, and their relationships as a transdisciplinary epistemological construct of design anthropology along a spectrum within four specific quadrants: anthropology relevant to design, anthropology of design, design of anthropology, and anthropological design. Situating these many meanings of design anthropology as holistically constitutive of it in the gestaltic sense.

As a transdisciplinary, collaborative, and still contested field, the objective of this group is to raise public awareness of the diversity of research and practice and their related themes that consistently cluster as a design anthropological discourse. It is one of the only spaces on the internet where this diversity of research and practice is actively organized collectively as design anthropology. Making resources more accessible to those across the spectrum in order to:

1. Establish and explore how Design Anthropology fits into or supplements the varied practices and objectives of design (including and across commercial design, speculative design, critical design, design fiction, transition design, ecological design, social design, decolonized design, sustainable design, participatory design, co-design, etc.), anthropology, futures studies, STS, and society writ large.

2. Contribute to the development and evolution of a more inclusive and holistic pedagogy of design anthropology.

3. Open up a dialogue between designers, anthropologists, researchers, engineers and potential clients leading to greater participation, adoption, and even new collaborative partnerships.

Members: 16
Latest Activity: on Tuesday

Video Presentations On Design Anthropology

Design Anthropology: A new style of research and action by Ton Otto:

Interactive Exhibitions at The Design Anthopological Futures Conference:

Video Stream of Design Anthropological Futures Conference:

Research Network for Design Anthropology (2014-2015):

Discussion Forum

REVIEW: ‘What the Anthropologist sees: Public toilets as cultural spaces’

This is a brief review/clarification of…Continue

Started by Brandon Meyer on Tuesday.

Anthropology + Design Graduate Seminar @ The New School | Fall 2019 | Shannon Mattern

"Designers commonly use ethnographic methods, and social scientists often adopt design practices, economies, cultures, and artifacts as their subjects of study, focusing in particular on how design…Continue

Started by Brandon Meyer Aug 24.

Speculative Futures Slack Group

The Speculative Futures Slack Group is quickly becoming a great virtual meeting place for those interested in the…Continue

Started by Brandon Meyer Jul 20.

Personal Introduction

I have worked as a web and graphic designer and was originally a multimedia design major before deciding to transfer to anthropology with the goal of advancing to design anthropology. Since my time…Continue

Started by Brandon Meyer Feb 25, 2014.

Comment Wall


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Comment by Brandon Meyer on October 3, 2019 at 12:28am

Statement for the Viktor Papanek Symposium by Ahmed Ansari and Presented by his Colleagues in the Decolonising Design Platform

"My initial intention for this symposium was to talk about the possibility of employing indigenous histories and knowledge systems, and radical ‘Other’ cosmologies and their conceptions of reality, to rethink our own modern relations to nature, ourselves, and the world we have created, and to speculate on how we could recreate them otherwise. I had identified this project: a project of radically reconceiving both speculative and transitional design practice on the basis of fostering cosmo-ontological reflexivity, a rendering of the social and artificial systems and infrastructures that constitute the foundations of our modern existences dissonant and strange, in order to rethink them, as a cosmotechnically driven approach to designs towards the pluriverse, to take a term recently coined by the Chinese philosopher Yuk Hui..."

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 29, 2019 at 8:25pm

"We have learned that heterogeneous design practices have always been active under other names, continually constituted by various blends of cultures, relationships, materials, histories, philosophies, and world views to become relevant to certain localities and situations. The theme of this Special Issue of Design and Culture, "embracing plurality," is one way to continue exploring our concern... that the international design research community must be careful when design from industrial and modernist roots in Europe becomes dominant in the field of Design for Social Innovation (e.g. Brown and Wyatt 2010, Manzini 2015, Murray, Caulier-Grice, and Mulgan 2010). We also argue that this field is “in need of effort and commitment to sharpen thinking to embrace difference and accommodate heterogeneity as its central condition” (Akama and Yee 2016).

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 23, 2019 at 9:15pm

USEFUL FICTIONS Symposium, Sept. 9-13 2019, Paris

Humans collect and interpret measurements to understand the world and exercise control over chaos... However as traces, proxies, and indices, measurements are fragile and prone to manipulation and misinterpretation... the promised indexical pars pro toto correlation between measurements and their interpretations has been increasingly exploited in pursuit of human agendas. In the context of a complex problem, such as climate change in the Anthropocene, this relationship has become increasingly political. Useful Fictions is a week-long symposium and a public participatory art project in Paris... Useful Fictions proposes to see the calculation of a catastrophic future not as an inevitability but as an invitation to innovate and effect change. Bridging the divide between urgency and agency, the project gathers a coalition of artists, designers, humanists, and graduate students to work with globally acclaimed climate scientists in their laboratories to build future machines and write absurd fictions.

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 23, 2019 at 9:13pm

Design Research for Change Symposium, December 11-12 2019, London

In recent years, design research has witnessed a “social turn” where researchers have looked to make change in social contexts as opposed to wholly commercial ends. This “social turn” has encompassed a range of activities and interventions that constitute a more “socially-driven” form of design, which suggests that researchers and practitioners from non-design disciplines are central to realising change in social situations. The Design Research for Change (DR4C) symposium will examine this “social turn” in design in detail and explore how design is increasingly involved in social, cultural, economic, environmental and political change. The DR4C Symposium will highlight the significant roles that design researchers play in some of the most challenging issues we face, both in the UK and globally.

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 23, 2019 at 9:12pm

New Experimental Research in Design (NERD) Conference, November 1st and 2nd, 2019 Basel, Switzerland

"With its particular consideration of the fact that all aspects of everyday life are designed, design research reveals an astounding ability to discuss current economic, social, environmental and media-related processes. This kind of design research, when intelligently implemented, also provides a fundamental critique of design as well as a variety of possible perspectives to better understand the present and prospects for the future."

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 23, 2019 at 9:11pm

Talks from the Primer 19 Conference are now available to watch on Vimeo at

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 22, 2019 at 4:01am

"Exploring the home environment: Fusing rubbish and design to encour..." by Heather McKinnon and Gavin Sade

This paper presents an in-home design study investigating the resource conservation strategies of 40 frugal households located across urban and regional Australia. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the method of design to explore the home environment, discussing how this approach may benefit researchers looking to investigate the home. We provide a reflexive account of the design process undertaken in this study, and present a discussion into the benefits of using this approach. The contribution of this paper reflects on two main aspects: 1) Designing for the culture of the home; and 2) Using design to encourage participant agency and self-reflection.

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 22, 2019 at 3:57am

"Autonomía and Cultural Co-Design. Exploring the Andean minga practi..." by Giulia Testori and Viviana d'Auria in Strategic Design Research Journal 11:2(2018)

"The following contribution tackles autonomía by reflecting on the relationship between culture and space and, therefore, on the multiple actors involved in an urban project. This interaction and involvement are envisioned through the approach termed as ‘cultural co-design’. The work is divided into four main sections. First, the mega-minga, an initiative based on the collaboration between citizens and institutions to produce collective urban spaces in Ecuador, is introduced. This is followed by a critical analysis of the mega-minga itself through the specific case of the Comuna de Santa Clara de San Millán, located in Quito. The deficiencies and the potentials of this collaborative practice will be illustrated by contextualizing the mega-minga historically, and relating it back to an evolving customary practice based on reciprocity. The third section of the paper looks at the intrinsic characteristics of the minga practice, explores its decolonizing qualities and the opportunity it represents to re-orient mainstream client-based and for-profit urban design practices in Ecuador. The article concludes by turning once again to the case of Santa Clara de San Millán. It envisions a scenario where autonomía is attainable through alternatives supporting a more equitable ‘interaction’ between space, culture, citizens, and institutions."

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 21, 2019 at 6:49pm
Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 20, 2019 at 8:36pm

Cameron Tonkinwise, a past critic of speculative design who has nonetheless made important contributions to the field, has separately uploaded an extended version of his interview with SpeculativeEdu: "Transitioning to Critical Speculations about how to Govern our Cosm...."



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