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 Nov 13.

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


You need to be a member of Design Anthropology to add comments!

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 19, 2019 at 3:18am

Politics and Method by Ahmed Ansari

"Within the current landscape of toolkits, literature and conferences on design for social innovation, humanitarian design, or social design—I will stick to the short ‘social design’ here—two terms from its lexicon have been instrumental in its rapid global adoption: design methods and design thinking. No toolkit, book, lecture or workshop opens without a clarification or homage to these two terms. One cannot (presumably) practice social design without clearing them. Some examples of this include IDEO’s toolkit Design For Social Impact Toolkit (2008) and Nesta’s Design, Impact and You Toolkit, books such as Andrew Shea’s Designing for Social Change (2012) and most recently, Ezio Manzini’s Design When Everybody Designs (2015), and also conferences like Big Think, A Better World By Design. The first generation of design methods were developed in the 1960s with the explicit aim of externalizing and formalizing the design process, demystifying what had hitherto been considered as a largely black boxed process, and opening it up so that other stakeholders could be involved in the design process..."

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 5:43pm

"Maria Castellanos is an artist and researcher exploring relationships between body and technology... Her works dealing with wearables and technological prosthesis align with Donna Haraway’s cyborg approach and critical posthumanism discussions. Fascinated with the connexions between wearables, cyborgs and feminism, Castellanos uses the idea of cyborgisation as the possibility of not only remaking ourselves but also deconstructing our socially constructed identities."

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 5:28pm

Design The Future: Transition Design by Terry Irwin, Carnegie Mellon University

Transition Design acknowledges that we are living in ‘transitional times,’ takes as its central premise the need for societal transition (systems-level change) to more sustainable futures, and argues that design and designers have a key role to play in these transitions. This kind of design is connected to long horizons of time and compelling visions of sustainable futures and must be based upon new knowledge and skill sets.

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 5:19pm

Medea Vox Podcast, "Reaching for sustainability: When knowledge and toolkits are not enough"

"Sustainability is a wicked problem. The wickedness lies in that the problems related to sustainability can't be solved in isolation from one another—and not with toolkits that take little consideration of the context in which the problem occurs. In this Medea Vox episode, Tim May and Magnus Johansson discuss sustainability from the viewpoint of learning, co-production, and how "knowing" things not always solve everything."

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 5:15pm

"Practice-Based Ontological Design for Multiplying Realities" by Christian Nold in Strategic Design Research Journal 11:2(2018)

"This text argues that a practice-based notion of ontological design is useful for designers to transform the politics of the already designed world. The text analyzes three approaches to the philosophical concept of ontology and suggests that a Science and Technology Studies approach focused on observing ontologies in practice provides pragmatic potential for designers to intervene in public controversies. The author’s case study of a contested airport expansion demonstrates that this approach can sensitize the designer to multiple realities, identify ‘where’ the ontological infrastructure of a problem is located, and define ‘what’ design is needed to transform a controversy. The text uses these findings to propose principles of practice-based ontological design that can support designers who are seeking to transform the world into a series of situated controversies."

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 5:08pm

"This issue of Diseña aims to contribute, from a very applied perspective, to the discussion about the role that ‘matters of concern’ could have in design research, thus adding to a growing body of work: “In recent years, a small but active part of design literature has investigated the role of matters of concern in the design process” (Menéndez-Blanco & De Angeli, 2016, pp. 227). Basically, ‘matters of concern’ arise in contrast to ‘matters of fact’. Bruno Latour (2004) proposed this category after finding that, if we analyze reality only from the perspective of the facts, the only thing we achieve is access to partial and simplified information. Thus, we not only impoverish reality, but we also leave a whole rich dimension out of our studies (Latour, 2004). Therefore, a shift was required to allow us to account for social reality as we experience it, with all its complexities and contradictions, that could also account for its unfinished, situated, controversial, mediated and procedural character."

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 4:53pm

"A Digital Tomorrow" is a design fiction video produced for Curious Rituals. This research project was about gestures, postures and digital rituals that typically emerged with the use of digital technologies:

A Digital Tomorrow from Nicolas Nova on Vimeo.

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 4:46pm

The Papanek Symposium 2019, September 26–27, organised by Alison J. Clarke and Francisco Laranjo in partnership with the Porto Design Biennale, debates both the future, and the future of design: the places, ideas and means by which the politics of design, and the design of politics come together. Speakers include Ramia Mazé, Flavia Dzodan, Akwugo Emejulu, Natsai Audrey Chieza, Sasha Costanza-Chock, Ahmed Ansari, Cameron Tonkinwise and Annelys de Vet. A series of workshops and open forums will be led by the Decolonising Design Group.

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 4:44pm

Journal of Futures Studies Special Issue: Design and Futures (Vol. I and 2) "Designers and futurists, it turns out, have a great deal in common. This mutual recognition is reaching critical mass as each comes to appreciate how their respective traditions have much to offer to making urgent change in the world, and even more so, together... ‘Design and futures’ together offer ecosystemic and embodied approaches to shaping our collective prospects, informed by a diverse range of practices. We are excited to have been working with the Journal of Futures Studies over several years to bring readers a special double issue dedicated to ‘Design and Futures'."

Vol 1:

Vol 2:

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 4:42pm

"Discursive Design: Critical, Speculative and Alternative things is a collection of design projects that indicate an emerging paradigm of a more philosophical approach to design. Design practice is no longer only about the commercial production of objects and tools. Nor is it just a 'thinking methodology' for improving businesses or creating brand strategies. With a philosophical edge, these new strands of design don’t aim to improve anything commercial, rather, they allow space for an audience to speculate and reflect on complex socio-cultural issues in an engaging way. Put simply, design for discourse, is the main behavioural effect that 'discursive' designers intend to communicate to an audience... Born from a need to account and create distinctions for these new roles in design, Bruce and Stephanie Tharp have published Discursive Design: Critical, Speculative and Alternative things as a way of collecting and establishing a framework for understanding these new types of design."



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