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: Oct 18

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

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 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...."

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."



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