Now you see me, now you don’t: Medical design anthropology, improvisational practices and future imaginings

Jonathan Ventura, Wendy Gunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The body as an anthropological nexus of sociocultural norms and conventions has been discussed at length in the humanities and social sciences. However, within the worlds of industrial design, an important player influencing an understanding of the body within a design process has been neglected and that is the industrial designer. Our main thesis considers designing as an anthropological, sociocultural and physical praxis, in the midst of which stand person(s) engaging within their material environments. We argue that, as an interdisciplinary dialogue with anthropologists and designers alike, the industrial designer could pursue a broader perspective than the classic techno-practice perspective, which deliberately detaches the social qualities of human action with the aim of changing user behaviour through the use of medical products. Instead, we propose an understanding of industrial design practice(s) that considers the improvisational and interwovenness of peoples and practices and what this means for attuning industrial design practices accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-55
Number of pages11
JournalAnthropology in Action
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Anthropology
  • Body
  • Industrial design
  • Medical products
  • Persons

Cite this