Design anthropology: An introduction

Wendy Gunn, Jared Donovan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter focuses on surfaces, places and people and describes some instances of how they meet. Ecological psychologist J. J. Gibson defines a surface as the interface between any two of the three states of matter, solid, liquid and gas. It finds that rubber studded soles do not sit well on tree residue-covered limestone slabs, wet by all too frequent rain. The chapter shows us the designer in his studio, smiling, as he slides his finger over the phone screen calling up different functions. This literal lack of friction, no grip on ice, only sliding, constitutes a strong figurative friction. Gunn and Donovan, with Ingold, discusses how a process of design is not to impose closure, but to allow for everyday life to carry on, hence the imagination, the flexibility needed in design, needs to be responsive to changing conditions, and is not about predicting the future.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign and Anthropology
Subtitle of host publicationBuilding Relations Between Designing and Using
PublisherAshgate Publishing Limited
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781317152620
ISBN (Print)9781409421580
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

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