Design Disruption in Contested, Contingent and Contradictory Future-Making

Yoko Akama, Dagny Stuedahl, Izak Van Zyl
pp. 132-148, download


This paper aims to problematize how we step into situations that are often contested, contingent and contradictory. In this context, how can we sharpen our sensitivity of the role design plays in generating understanding and future-making possibilities? Here, we employ the term disruption as a way to question our own knowledge construction and research practices in Design Anthropology and Participatory Design. We pursue disruption as a political and necessaryconsciousness when Design Anthropology meets Participatory Design and discuss the generative, reflexive and analytical dimensions of disruption through three vignettes. These vignettes raises questions of how we interrogate disruptions of power to consider different ways in which this manifests when entering into and participating in ongoing changing process. They also highlight the need to displace existing knowledge, rather than pursuing ‘mutual learning’ that had been a defining commitment of Participatory Design. Lastly, the vignettes reveal the need to disrupt the designer-researcher in order to surrender to contradiction and contingency as part of future-making.

keywords: Design Anthropology, Participatory Design, Disruption, Politics, Heterogeneity, Contradiction. 

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