alignments in the life cycle of a
device, and every object of design
eventually has to become part of
already existing ecologies of devices
(in people’s already ongoing life
worlds), be they digital, like computer applications and databases, or
physical, like buildings, furniture,
doors, books, tools, and vehicles.
Hence, the beginning and end of
a designed device are open and
hardly ever constrained by the limits of the project. This points at the
importance of understanding how
design in a project is related to user/
stakeholder appreciation and appropriation, be it as adoption or redesign, and how users make it part
of their life worlds and evolving
ecologies of devices. Design might
be thought of as constrained to a
specific project with given objects
of design, resources, timelines and
specified outcomes, but since the
final embodiment of the object
of design is a thing, this thing
opens up for unforeseen appropriation in use in already existing,
evolving ecologies of devices.
Hence, strategies and tactics of
design for use must also be open
to appropriation or appreciation
in use, after a project is finished,
and treat this appropriation as a
potential, specific kind of design.
Krippendorff’s notion also implies
that in design for use we should
focus on the before of the project,
the “procurement” process of aligning actants in a design project, and
how objects of concern become a
specific object of design. This may
involve making explicit the often
hidden performative “protocols of
design,” initially setting the stage
for design things and establishing the object of design [ 10, 12].
tism of John Dewey and the “thing
politics” of Bruno Latour have been
cornerstones for reflecting upon
design as participation in collectives of humans and non-humans.
Dewey’s position on controversial
things and the public makes the
project of drawing things together
even more challenging. He argued
that in fact the public is characterized by heterogeneity and
conflict [ 13, 14]. It may be challenging enough to design for, by, and
together with collectives of humans
and non-humans in which common social objectives are already
established, institutionalized, or
at least within reasonable reach—
socio-material things supported by
relatively stable infrastructures. But
the really demanding challenge is to
design where no such thing seems
to be within immediate reach,
where no social community exists—
in short, where a political community, a public characterized by heterogeneity and difference with no
shared object of design, is in need
of a platform or infrastructure. It’s
not necessary to solve conflicts, but
rather to constructively deal with
disagreements—public controversies where heterogeneous design
things can unfold and actors engage
in alignments of their conflicting
objects of design. Participation in
the making of such things, and
the relation between professional
design and design activism, stands
out as the ultimate challenge
when we gather and collaborate
in and around design things. This,
we believe, is a major challenge
to design thinking in general, as
well as to more specific participative and user-centered approaches
to drawing things together.
In Networks of Design: Proc. of the 2008 Annual
International Conference, F. Hackney and J. Glynne,
eds. VIV Minton, 2009.
2. Ehn, P., Agger Eriksen, M., Binder, T., Linde,
P., Peterson, B., Niedenthal, S., Jacucci, G.,
Kuutti, K., De Michelis, G., Rumpfhuber, A., and
Wagner, I. Opening the digital box for design work:
Supporting performative interactions, using inspirational materials and configuring of place. In The
Disappearing Computer, N. Streitz, A. Kameas, and
I. Mavrommati, eds. Springer Verlag, 2007, 50-76.
3. Telier, A., Binder, T., De Michelis, G., Ehn, P.,
Linde, P., Jacucci, G., and Wagner, I. Design
Things. MI T Press, Cambridge, MA, 2011.
4. Latour, B., and Weibel, P., eds. Making Things
Public: Atmospheres of Democracy (Catalog of
the Exhibition at ZKM Karlsruhe). MI T Press,
Cambridge, MA, 2005.
5. Schön, D. A. The Reflective Practitioner. Basic
Books, New York, 1983.
6. Schön, D. A. Educating The Reflective Practitioner.
Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, 1987.
7. Dewey, J. Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. Henry
Holt, New York, 1969 .
8. Dewey, J. Art as Experience. Berkeley Publishing
Group, New York, 1980 .
9. Simon, H. A. The Sciences of the Artificial. MI T
Press, Cambridge, MA, 1976.
10. Pedersen, J. Protocols of research and design.
Ph.D. thesis. Copenhagen: I T University, 2007.
11. Krippendorff, K. The Semantic Turn: A New
Foundation for Design. Taylor & Francis Group,
Boca Raton, FL, 2006.
12. Clark, B. Design as Sociopolitical Navigation.
Ph.D. thesis. Odense: University of Southern
13. Dewey, J. The Public and Its Problems. Henry
Holt, New York, 1927.
14. Marres, N. Issues spark a public into being. In
Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy
(Catalog of the Exhibition at ZKM—Center for Art
and Media—Karlsruhe, Mar. 20–Oct. 30, 2005), B.
Latour and P. Weibel, eds. MIT Press, Cambridge,
MA, 2005, 208–217.
In our approach to drawing things
together, the philosophical pragma-
1. Latour, B. A cautious promethea? A few steps
toward a philosophy of design (with special
attention to Peter Sloterdijk). Keynote lecture.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR While A. Telier has
been doing intensive research on interaction design
and related areas for 20 years, the name is not
known in the research community. Probably from
a strong case of shyness, or some other form of
psychological fragility, A. Telier has hidden behind
a variety of pseudonyms. We know he has widely
published and has frequently appeared in Aarhus
and Malmö as Pelle Ehn; in Copenhagen he has
also gone by the name of Thomas Binder. In Italy
he is well known as Giorgio De Michelis, while in
Wien he has adopted a feminine pseudonym: Ina
Wagner. Moreover, in recent years he has augmented the confusion by creating new, younger
aliases: In Sweden he has appeared as Per Linde,
while between Finland and Italy he goes by Giulio
Jacucci. This list is not complete, but it illustrates
a behavior whose deep reasons merit attention. It
seems A. Telier needs a multiplicity of personalities to deal with a complex subject like design by
investigating and practicing it, as well as proposing
different viewpoints on it, without being able to take
a consistently uniform point of view.
March + April 2012
© 2012 ACM 1072-5220/12/03 $10.00