Maria Göransdotter


In design, the big questions are typically not where we come from, but where we are heading. History, thus, rarely has a prominent place in the understandings of how, or why, design is done in certain ways. Yet, the methods, processes and ways of thinking that shape contemporary design practices have come about over time, and are thus historically constructed. This paper argues that making visible – present-ing – the historicity of designing is crucial to making visible mechanisms that work on a conceptual level of design, and that need to be addressed in the re-framing and development of emerging design approaches and practices. Taking Scandinavian user-centered (industrial) design as an example, I suggest a shift in scale and perspective for making design histories that contribute to present-ing historically formed concepts and ideas in designing. This shift of scale can provide a provisional and propositional scaffolding to activate an awareness of how – and why – designing has been formed over time. Making histories of designing that start on the scale of concepts, can highlight contexts, practices and approaches that expand contemporary understandings of what design might become.

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