Making Things and Beyond


Making Things and Beyond

Researcher: Theodora Vardouli

Making Things and Beyond broadly aims at articulating “making” as a new attitude for looking at active and productive human engagements with the world. In this project “making” is provisionally construed as a shift of attention from abstract thought to embodied action, and from the intentions of individual human actors to dynamic contexts of action, entangled with material, social, and cultural forces. Drawing from diverse fields such as philosophy, material culture studies, and design anthropology this project aspires to identify and assemble theoretical commitments that this new attitude entails and position them in dialogue with intellectual traditions in design theory and design research.

With this goal, project researcher Theodora Vardouli has undertaken a series of written investigations and organized pertinent discussion groups, including the following:

 

  • Making Use, Spring 2014 – Spring 2015
    How can ideas of temporality, situatedness, and embodiment help us rethink the phenomenon of use and its relationship to design? What are the implications of approaching use as a kind of “making” for its computational descriptions? “Function” and “use” are keywords that design researchers customarily employ when referring to human-artifact engagements. However, there is little consensus about how the concepts of function and use relate to each other, to the intentions of “designers” and “users,” or to their actions and encompassing contexts. This research project synthesizes literature from design research, material culture studies, design anthropology, and function theory in order to critically compare different attitudes to human-artifact engagements, implicit in characterizations of function and use. It explores design-centric, communicative, and use-centric attitudes, their assumptions, and implications for design theory. Ultimately, the project aspires to outline principles for theoretically and computationally approaching use as an embodied and temporally contingent process – as a form of “making.”