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


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Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 4:40pm

"Critical design, speculative design and design fiction are methodological frameworks in which objects are seen as facilitators of conversations rather than goods to be bought or used... In the last decade, an impressive creative effort has been dedicated to this field, producing countless scenarios and fostering rich debates about ethics, technology and society. The vast majority of these future visions were and still are, however, a representation of the fears and the dreams of a limited part of the global community. Further, the aesthetic of this work has drawn liberally from the Hollywood imaginary or the design establishment’s style. The Global Futures Lab is a series of international workshops that aims to counteract the bias and stereotypes of so-called 'Western futures' and foster different futures linked to specific geo-cultural locations."

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 4:40pm

Very excited to see Parson's New School for Social Research launch a new course, Anthropology and Design: Objects, Sites, Systems. I've been writing to Dr. Shannon Mattern about the readings and some of the issues around the subject. I personally would rearrange some of the required/supplemental readings but I'm positive that it is one of the most extensive courses covering the broad topic of "design (and) anthropology" in the U.S. to date.

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 4:39pm

"A Handbook On Ethnographic Futures Research" circa 1980 available for download:

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 17, 2019 at 4:38pm

Is human sociality being engineered and patented?

"The artist Paolo Cirio's Sociality project aggregates and sorts tech patents to reveal thousands of technologies that conceal the social control, manipulation, and surveillance at play on the Internet... The 20,000 patents featured in Sociality deal with technologies firmly entrenched in the cultural zeitgeist. Tools related to things like social bubbles, bias in AI, corporate surveillance, invasions of privacy, and the behavior modification and tech addiction... As an artistic provocation, it proposes the oversight, flagging, and banning of socially harmful inventions that employ devious psychological and profiling tactics... everyone is able to browse, search, submit, and rate patents by their titles, images of flowcharts, and the companies that created them."

Comment by Brandon Meyer on July 16, 2019 at 9:22pm

Syllabus for "Worlds," a course taught by Ahmed Ansari of the decolonising design group at Carnegie Mellon University (with links to reading materials):

Comment by Anastasia Gidt on April 1, 2016 at 2:43pm

@Nancy, thank you so much for replying and the video linkI know this video. It actually reminded me of the article that I am now searching (still without success). I was not aware of the AnthroDesign list. That's a great help! Huge thanks

Comment by Nancy Fried Foster on March 29, 2016 at 9:32pm

Don't recognize that article, Anastasia, but you are likely to get help on the AnthroDesign list if you don't get it here. Also, you might enjoy a recent Vox video about poorly designed doors: When you do find the article, please post info!

Comment by Anastasia Gidt on March 29, 2016 at 9:20pm

Hey there, I am not sure whether this is the right place to post, but here I go. I am facing a dilemma where I remember a text but not the author. Maybe one of you can help me remember the source. The text is on the subject of design anthropology or anthropology of material culture. In the text the author describes how an anthropologist would approach the study of design objects by using the example of a door in her/his university department. If I remember correctly, it was how by looking at the design of an object, you can tell about the social relations in which the object is embedded (The said door had a pin which separated students from staff. I also clearly remember the article carried an image of said pin door). Does anyone of you know which article I am talking about? do you remember the name of author or where I might find the article? It is not Jim Johnson aka Bruno Latour, and not Don Norman's door. Any help is greatly appreaciated!



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