Design Anthropology and the next evolution of the design process

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Nishanth Srikanth

Abstract: As design theory and practice evolve, understanding the impacts that a designer’s choices will have on the larger community are more important than ever. While designers have always sought to shape the world around us, and (for the most part) serve as a positive force in improving people’s lives, designers today are reckoning with the unintended and unforeseen consequences of poor decision making, and the poor understanding of culture of past designers. Looking into various definitions of design, past movements that sought to alter the design process, and their effectiveness and criticisms, we can start to understand the need for a new form kind of design practice.The biggest issue has been a lack of understanding of local cultures, and especially of value systems, as part of the design process. This has led to designers working off of perceptions of what people value, rather than understanding those value systems before intervening. Here, the relatively new field of design anthropology holds promise, as it provides a new approach to design; one that does not look to create for a universal ideal, but instead infuses design with the perspective of multiplicity.This paper explores the evolution of Design Anthropology, dissects the similarities and differences between design and anthropology, and looks at ways in which this new field can influence traditional design processes and practices. The goal is to create design process that seeks to understand and empathize with the culture and value systems of a community, rather than just disrupt or supersede them.

Keywords: Design Anthropology, Design Process, Participatory Design

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1003536

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