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#L2D4G

Learning to design for good

A personal manifesto of design ethics

Meredith Thompson

#L2D4G Learning to design for good A personal manifesto of design ethics Meredith Thompson

Copyright © 2013 by Meredith Thompson

www.merethom.com

#L2D4G: Learning to design for good

First Edition, Paperback – published 2013

Whiteshoes Press

Plymouth, United Kingdom

ISBN: 100100100

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law.

Designed by Meredith Thompson

Set in Quadon by Réne Bider

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Merci, beaucoup!

I would like to extent my sincerest thanks to the following

people for their ongoing help and support during this project:

M. Barrettara, R. Bider, P. Q. Davis, W. Dickson, R. Fraquelli, J.

Franz, L. Hindle, M. Hutchinson, J. Jackson, D. Kasaboski,

G. Kallenos, L. Layman, N. Shadbolt, S. Thompson, S. Wood,

and M. Woods.

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#L2D4G

personal manifesto of design ethics

HELLO

WORLD!

I am a young designer.

As an activity, I believe design is any and all things done to negotiate between reality and that-which-

could-be [possibility]. Possibility refers to anything which is imagined and desired. It could as simple as

thank you card or as lofty as an new economic system. The process of bringing either of those about is

still design. At its core, I believe design is an innately human activity that can and should be harnessed for tremendous good. I live within the confines of a capitalist economy and choose to participate in it by making a livelihood out of design. As it relates to my work, design is primarily concerned with visual communication, interaction, information, and systems design. It involves bringing about the possibilities of others. Possibilities that are motivated by a myriad of factors, which are increasingly complex and frequently beyond my control. I fear finding myself in a situation where I am asked to use design in a way I find unethical.

To help navigate such situations and ensure I design for good, I will keep the following at the front of my mind during the design process on every project:

design is a negotiation between the reality and possibility, then design ethics is the manifestation of

that-which-could-be that requires the use of our innate ability to think reflectively about the implications of previous experiences during the negotiation process. I will reflect upon the ramifications—both positive and negative—that a design will have by comparing it to previous design scenarios that share similarities with the design project in question.

To guide my decisions about positive and negative implications of my designed outcomes I will refer to the following as my guiding poles:

I will endeavour to seek harmony between human existence and terrestrial health in all I design as

current defining factor of being human is living on a planet whose health is linked to our ability to

survive as a species.

will endeavour to design with and for dignity, the innate right of everyone to be valued and receive

ethical treatment. When possible, I will not design solutions that limit access to things such as the alleviation of sufering or the beneficial extension of human ability based on one’s economic power.

will use desire—my own and others—as a source of inspiration, motivation, and to bolster my own confidence in doing good.

I will honour these statements for even the humblest and plainest of tasks, for I believe continual steps toward positive possibility—no matter how small—can create significant transformation over time.

possibility—no matter how small—can create significant transformation over time. If Sincerely, Meredith Thompson
possibility—no matter how small—can create significant transformation over time. If Sincerely, Meredith Thompson
If
If
possibility—no matter how small—can create significant transformation over time. If Sincerely, Meredith Thompson

Sincerely,

Meredith Thompson

Preface 07 Introduction 09 Methodonics 1 1 15 What is design? 25 Ethics + Design =
Preface
07
Introduction
09
Methodonics
1 1
15
What is design?
25
Ethics + Design = ?
35
Guiding poles of possibility
55
#L2D4G Manifesto
Works Cited
57
Bibliography
58
Image Credits
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Everything you don’t know about me (but you really should)

While I know, quite intimately, all the reasons that lead me to this project, you probably don’t. So, let me help you make some sense of my headspace with a tour of my thought process to situate yourself before we proceed into the depths of my mind.

It makes perfect sense that I became a designer.

I have created and curated at every opportunity for as long as

I can remember: arts & crafts, DIY & design. As a child I would

fold pieces of paper or doodle on anything and everything. As an adult this transformed into a career in design, but the need to doodle/sketch/endlessly take notes never went away. The vast majority of my hobbies relate to making or organising. I have a deep compulsion to solve problems, optimise systems, and devise the best means of clearly articulating and commu- nicating these solutions to others. What starts out as finding the most efficient way to complete a lap of the grocery store quickly balloons into discussing theoretical solutions to large wicked problems currently affecting the world. Food banks supplied solely by grocery store ‘food waste’ anyone?

I rely a great deal on my intuition 1 —arguably one of a design-

er’s biggest tools. Personal trauma has forced me to evaluate my own ethics and morals on an ongoing basis. I never stop reading articles and having discussions about issues of moral importance, in an effort to continuously develop my own mo- rality. Of particular interest to me are the social and economic systems that frame discourse around ethical issues. As a de- signer, it is of the utmost importance to me that I am then able to communicate these realisations, share my ideas with others, and contribute to these discussions. To sum it up, I like to ex- plore, understand, solve, make and share: especially to do good.

1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this intuition thing down!

1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this
1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this
1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this
1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this
1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this
1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this
1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this
1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this
1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this
1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this
1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this
1 I consistently score as an INFj or Ell on Jungian-inspired personality typologies, I have this
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The path that lead me here.

At an early age, I promised myself I would obtain as much

education as I wanted regardless of any barriers. By the time

I entered secondary school I was relatively certain I wanted to

obtain at least a master’s degree. The final year of my un- dergraduate degree—the York-Sheridan Joint Programme in Graphic Design—left me with more questions than answers, a strong desire to acquire more knowledge, and the realisation that simply making beautiful things would never be enough to fulfil me. I took a year off and worked as a designer for a finance company, where I decided I wanted to use a master’s degree as a means of gaining a deeper understanding of how I could use my design abilities to do good (and not evil).

Why a manifesto?

In my own design practice, I am enchanted by graphic commu- nications (anything from imagery, to typography, to informa- tion design), system design, and interaction design/user expe- rience. I consider myself fortunate—both through hard work and natural ability—to have developed skills that I consider to

be quite strong in those areas that I love most, but also feel that

I lacked grounded ethical guidance to keep my practice from inadvertently veering into ‘evil’ territory.

Inspired partly by my own ethical convictions, and partly by Milton Glaser’s “12 Steps in the Road to Hell” 2 , I decided to create a manifesto that would give me some ethical guide- lines for my practice.

Through a developing personal practice, this research will serve as a manifesto for a contemporary understanding of design ethics situated clearly in design and ethical politic. It will result in a set of guidelines I can carry forward into my fledgling practice, which will help me create ethical design. What I’ve created is undoubtedly deeply personal due to the very nature of a manifesto, but I have attempted to ground it in enough theory hold up to academic rigour and hopefully even contain some takeaway or inspiration for others who read it. At the very least, I have now formally articulated a way of keeping the ethical at the forefront of my design practice as I re-enter industry.

Enjoy.

2 Glaser, M. “These Are Some Things I Have Learned.” Address, AIGA National Design Conference, March

23, 2002. A 12-question test developed by Milton Glaser to test his ‘willingness to lie’.

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What you can expect to find in this document

This document is comprised of two movements: a manifesto and an extended discussion of relevant subject matter to give contextualisation.

Manifestos have a well established tradition—especially within art and design—of being the chosen mode of conveying one’s beliefs and intentions in writing. I have chosen to pair mine with a longer background discussion of my thoughts ground- ed in theory. Movement one contains the long-form discussion of arriving at my manifesto through a narrative of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind as I re-enter practice.

of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind
of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind
of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind
of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind
of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind
of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind
of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind
of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind
of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind
of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind
of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind
of theory. Movement two contains the manifesto itself, a set of guidelines to keep in mind
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Methodonics make the manifesto

This section has been included in place of a more traditional methodologies or methods section.

What are methodonics?

Methods are “the techniques or procedures used to gather and analyse data related to some research question or hypothe-

sis” 3 and methodology (in design) is the “comparative study of method” 4 or “the study of the principles, practices and proce-

dures of design

both is and might be conducted” 5 . They are the traditional ways in which specific process is discussed in design research. Peter Quinn Davis believes that there is a notion within design re- search that rigid methodologies should always be employed 6 , however, design practices may contain a range of methods which do not always add up to a complete methodology. An alternative way of approaching this area of design research is methodonics 7 —Davis’s name for Mario Bunge’s concept of Methodics 8 —the “collection of methods employed in a research field. Not to be confused with methodology” 9 .

Its central concern is with how designing

Methodonics used in the creation of this manifesto

Theoretical and visual primary and secondary research was undertaken to provide foundations for and expand my under- standing of design ethics. This research served as the content which was reflected upon and synthesised into a narrative of theory and a personal manifesto. Finally, reflective making was undertaken to help others gain a deeper understanding of the narrative and manifesto.

3 Crotty, M. The Foundations of Social Science Research:meaning and Perspective in the Research

Process. New South Wales: Allen and Uwin, 1998, 3.

4 Friedman, K. “Theory Construction in Design Research: Criteria: Approaches, and Methods.” Design Studies 24, no. 6 (2003): 507.

5 Cross, N. Developments in Design Methodology. Chichester: Wiley, 1984.

6 Davis, P. Q. “Tomz.” Lecture, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom, Plymouth, September 12, 2013.

7 Davis, P. Q. “Tomz.”

8 Bunge, M. Dictionary of Philosophy. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179.

9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy, 179.

M. Dictionary of Philosophy . Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179. 9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy
M. Dictionary of Philosophy . Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179. 9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy
M. Dictionary of Philosophy . Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179. 9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy
M. Dictionary of Philosophy . Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179. 9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy
M. Dictionary of Philosophy . Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179. 9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy
M. Dictionary of Philosophy . Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179. 9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy
M. Dictionary of Philosophy . Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179. 9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy
M. Dictionary of Philosophy . Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179. 9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy
M. Dictionary of Philosophy . Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179. 9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy
M. Dictionary of Philosophy . Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179. 9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy
M. Dictionary of Philosophy . Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179. 9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy
M. Dictionary of Philosophy . Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1999, 179. 9 Bunge, Dictionary of Philosophy
What is design? No dialogue on design would be complete without some discussion surrounding a

What is design?

No dialogue on design would be complete without some discussion surrounding a definition of design. This manifesto is no exception. Let’s begin!

Is this design? So, what exactly do I mean by design in this context? (noun)
Is this design? So, what exactly do I mean by design in this context? (noun)
Is this design?
So, what exactly do I mean by design in this context?
(noun) a specification
of an object, manifested
There is—at least to some degree—a consensus that design
is
an innate human activity. Two influential works on the
by an agent, intended to
accomplish goals, in a
particular environment,
matter—one a book and one an address later published as an
essay—go so far as to share the title “What is a designer?”. In
1954 Alvin Lustig gave an address called “What is a Designer?”
to the Advertising Typographers Association of America, and
said “Designers anticipate the requirements of their society and
express them before the society is completely prepared or will-
ing to accept what proves to be something they really want” 10 .
Just over a decade later Norman Potter posits in his 1969 book
What is a designer? that “Every human being is a designer 11 ”
and qualifies design as work in “every field that warrants pause,
and careful consideration, between the conceiving of an action
and fashioning of the means to carry it out, and an estimation
of its efects” 12 .
using a set of primitive
components, satisfying
a
set of requirements,
subject to constraints;
(verb, transitive) to
create a design, in an
environment (where the
designer operates)
Herbert Simon’s oft-cited description of design as the
“transformation of existing conditions into preferred ones” 13 in
his 1968 work, The Sciences of the Artificial, tends to garner
the reputation as the ‘gold standard’ of definitions for design.
Building on Simon’s understanding, in the first chapter of his
2009 book, Design Futuring, Tony Fry puts forward the idea that
everyone is a designer because our innate ability to prefigure
is a defining characteristic of being human 14 . In his 2012 follow
up, Becoming Human by Design, Fry concludes that design is
indistinguishable from human intelligence (based on recent
paleontological research which suggests that tool usage by
primates caused them to evolve towards greater intelligence) 15 .
One definition of design to which I am quite partial is taken from
a 2005 paper by Clive Dilnot, titled “Ethics? Design?”. It bears
resemblance to Simon’s description of design, and is described
by Dilnot as “a situated process that is a sustained examination
of what is possible in the realm of the artificial and a negotiation
with that actuality to realise possibility” 16 . Dilnot’s overall
discussion of design is incredibly nuanced and will be dealt with
at length in the following chapters, but is quite close to my own
understanding of what design is.
10 Lustig, Alvin. “What Is a Designer?”. In Looking Closer 3: Classic Writings on Graphic Design, edited by
Jessica Helfand Michael Beirut, Stephen Heller, and Rick Poynor, 106-08. New York: Allworth Press, 1999,
106. It should be noted here that this was the first address Lustig, a graphic designer by trade, gave after
losing his vision.
11 Potter, N. What is A Designer: things, places, messages. London: Hyphen Press, 2012, 10.
12 Potter, N. What is A Designer: things, places, messages. London: Hyphen Press, 2012, 10.
13 Simon, H. The Sciences of the Artificial, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1968, 55.
14 Fry, T, Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice. Oxford: Berg, 2009, 28.
15 103 Rowe, A. “Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice.“ Review of Design Futuring:
Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice, by Tony Fry. Art/Design/Media Subject Centre, 24 November
2009, http://www.adm.heacademy.ac.uk/library/files/resource-reviews/rowe-design-futuring.pdf, 5.
16 Dilnot, C. “Ethics? Design?” In The Archeworks Papers, Volume 1, Number 2, edited by Stanley
Tigerman, 1-149. Chicago: Archeworks Press, 2005, 16-7.

Though I agree with each theorist in their understandings, for the purposes of my manifesto I will define design broadly as any and all things which we do to move between reality and that-which-could-be.

But not everyone who designs is a designer, right?

That is correct. Despite the fact I’ve recognised design as an innate human activity undertaken by all (design, the activ- ity) and defined it in a very broad sense, I also acknowledge that design is assumed as a livelihood by many individuals (design, the discipline)—myself included. The designation of design, the discipline is often referred to in design theory. For instance, Richard Buchanan’s 1992 paper, “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking” discusses the evolution of historic no- tions of design into our more contemporary understanding. Buchanan states that during the twentieth century, design evolved into a “new liberal art of technological culture” 17 . When Buchanan speaks of technology, he is referring to John Dewey’s understanding of the word to mean “experimental thinking” 18 , as opposed to the more commonplace definition of technology as artefact. In a line of thought that is similar to what I outlined in the previous paragraph, Buchanan defines his understanding of liberal arts as:

a discipline of thinking that may be shared to some degree by… [everyone] in their daily lives and is, in turn, mastered by a few people who practice the discipline with distinctive insight and sometimes advance it to new areas of innovative application 19 .

From this, one can surmise that Buchanan views design as having evolved from a trade activity or profession into a dis- cipline of experimental thinking culture, that some—but by no means all—practice with expertise. Norman Potter takes a similar view, articulating that while design is an innate hu- man ability, “many [people] also earn their living by design” 20 .

All this is not to say that one is more important and should be privileged above the other—or even that only two differ- ent designations exist within. I bring it up to clarify that this discussion is framed from the viewpoint of someone who practices within design the discipline and will therefore be biased towards that understanding to at least some degree.

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Buchanan, R. “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking”. Design Issues ,VIII , no 2 (1992): 5.

Buchanan. “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking”. 8.

Buchanan. “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking”. 8-9.

Potter, N. What is A Designer: things, places, messages. London: Hyphen Press, 2012, 10.

things, places, messages. London: Hyphen Press, 2012, 10. What about di f erent ‘types’ of designers?

What about diferent ‘types’ of designers?

The reality of practice within the discipline of design is that we often—for better or worse—break its different tasks into various categories. This is where more defined roles such as “product designer”, “spatial designer”, “architect”, or “graphics designer”—the title by which I typically refer to myself—come into play 21 . In reality, a designer’s practice rarely operates strictly within the confines of one such category.

Buchanan calls for design to look for patterns of placements rather than categorise design action into a series of rigid cat- egories—a mode of thinking he feels is inherently problemat- ic 22 . Where categories are fixed and determinate, placements have boundaries that can shape, constrain, and contextualise meaning and ideas 23 ; they offer a more rhizomatic conception of design process. Buchanan gives four broad placements which “point toward certain kinds of objectivities in human experience” 24 where work by designers in each has “created a framework for human experience in contemporary culture” 25 .

These placements are: symbolic and visual communications [signs], material objects [things], activities and organised services [actions], and complex systems/environments for working, living, learning, and playing [thoughts] 26 . Buchanan notes it may be tempting to classify each instance of design into only one placement, the overlap and interconnection of the placements is inevitable practice and often allows for moments of innovation 27 . Buchanan’s placements are widely used in the vernacular of design and design thinking theory as normative ways of breaking down design practice, but I still find them quite broad.

Lucy Kimbell argues for an alternative mode of discussing design thinking—which I find to be more useful—in her papers, “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1” (2011), and “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2” (2012). In Part 1, Kimbell argues that design thinking as a research area is under theorised and understudied 28 . Though she gives a broad definition for design thinking as the ways in which designers problem solve 29 —read move current circumstances to preferred ones—she posits that there is no singular theory of design thinking, but rather three heterogeneous accounts can be traced to find its origins 30 .

21 Though, I increasingly prefer “communications designer’ or ‘visual communications designer’.

22 Buchanan. “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking”. 12.

23 Buchanan. “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking”. 13.

24 Buchanan. “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking”. 10.

25 Buchanan. “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking”. 10.

26 Buchanan. “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking”. 9-10.

27 Buchanan. “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking”. 10.

28 Kimbell, L. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”. Design and Culture, 3, no 3 (2011): 301.

29 Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 285.

30 Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 297.

“Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 285. 30 Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 297. 1 8

Kimbell ofers criticisms for current accounts of design think- ing 31 and ultimately argues for an alternative mode of studying design thinking which looks at practice 32 .

One is the account of design thinking as a cognitive style 33 . This account focuses on design, the discipline and defines design’s purpose as problem solving 34 . The focus of the expertise and activity in this account of design thinking are the traditional roles of designers (product designer, spatial de- signer, etc.) 35 , which aim to solve problems of an ill-structured nature. This account is described by theorists such as Cross, Dorst, Lawson, Schön, and Rowe and cites abductive thinking, design ability as a form of intelligence, and reflection-in-ac- tion as key concepts of design thinking 36 .

Another is the account of design thinking as an organisational resource. 37 This account focuses on design by businesses and other organisations in need of innovation and defines design’s purpose as innovation 38 . The focus of expertise and activity in this account of design thinking can be found in any context in which organisational problems are framed as design prob- lems 39 . This account is described by theorists such as Bauer, Brown, Dunne, Egan, and Martin, and cites abductive thinking, empathy, integrative thinking, prototyping, and visualisation as key concepts of design thinking 40 .

The final is the account of design thinking as a general theo- ry of design 41 . This account differs vastly from the others, as its key concept is that design has no special subject matter of its own 42 . This account is described in Richard Buchanan’s 1992 paper, Wicked Problems in Design Thinking, and defines design problems as wicked problems, and the purpose of design as taming wicked problems 43 . Wicked problems are “social system problems which are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision makers with conflicting values, and where the rami- fications in the whole system are thoroughly confusing” 44 .

As criticisms for the three accounts, Kimbell offers the fol- lowing ideas. First, these accounts often make a distinction

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43

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Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 285.

Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 285.

Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 285.

Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 297.

Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 297.

Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 297.

Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 285.

Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 297.

Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 297.

Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 297.

Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 285.

Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 297.

Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 297

Rittell, Horst in Buchanan, R. “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking”. Design Issues ,VIII , no 2 (1992): 15.

Design Thinking”. Design Issues ,VIII , no 2 (1992): 15. between theoretical and real world action

between theoretical and real world action 45 . Second, they make generalisations about design thinking without address- ing the diversity and historically situated legacy of design practices 46 . Third, they rely on design theories that privilege designers as the main actors in designing 47 . As design—both the activity and practice—manifests itself in such diverse ways, I agree both with Kimbell’s criticisms and her call for an alternative understanding.

In that case, what is a good alternative?

As an alternative to the traditional understandings, Kim- bell suggests dismissing the notion of a generalised de- sign thinking, and instead focusing on “situated, embodied material practice” 48 where design becomes a “set of routines that emerge in context” 49 . She says “we should understand design as a situated, contingent set of practices carried by professional designers and those who engage with designers’ activities” 50 and argues that this will allow us to gain more insight on whether design’s way of interacting with the world is unique to designers or found in other disciplines 51 .

Kimbell begins the paper by gathering some understand- ings of practice from theorists in sociology and science and technology studies 52 . She sets up the use of practice theory in relation to design thinking by stating that it

shift[s] the unit of analysis away from a micro level (individuals) or a macro one (organizations or groups and their norms) to an indeterminate level at a nexus of minds, bodies, objects, discourses, knowledge, structures/ processes, and agency, which together constitute practices that are carried by individuals 53 .

Kimbell then puts forward that most theories of practice share two common ideas: first, that practice cannot be con- sidered by taking any of its constituent elements in isola- tion 54 ; and second, that practices are understood to be produced dynamically through the interplay of diverse elements in relation to one another 55 .

45 Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 301.

46 Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 301.

47 Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 301.

48 Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 300.

49 Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 300.

50 Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 287.

51 Kimbell,. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 1”, 300.

52 Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 132-4.

53 Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 131.

54 Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 132.

55 Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 132.

“Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 132. 55 Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 132. 2 0

Kimbell hopes to establish an “understanding [of] the socio- material world as dynamic and constituted” 56 to help “move away from some of the difficulties presented in accounts of design thinking” 57 To do this, she refers to Reckowitz’s ele - ments of practice (forms of bodily activities; forms of mental activities; ‘things’ and their use; a background knowledge in the form of understanding; know-how; states of emotion; and motivational knowledge 58 ) and emphasises four aspects of practice theory that are relevant to design:

1. How practices are understood as “(re)configurings of the world through which the determination of bounda- ries, properties and meanings is differentially enact- ed” 59 . With practice theory, design can be viewed as an activity distributed across various people and arte- facts, which together enact designing and designers. 60

2. How structures are constituted in practice (using var- ious studies on technology, design, development, and media) 61 . This demonstrates that structure is enacted by users in practice 62 .

3. The attention paid to the role of objects in constitut- ing practice 63 . Paying attention to objects allows us to distinguish practice as more dynamic, creative, and constructive 64 .

4. Knowledge; specifically, the notion that it is mediated by interactions with people and arrangements in the world 65 .

With those aspects established, Kimbell moves on to discuss in more detail her analytical devices of ‘design-as-practice’ and ‘designs-in-practice’. Design-as-practice is “a way of thinking about the work of designing that acknowledges that design practices are habitual, possibly rule-governed, often routinised, conscious or unconscious, and that they are embodied or situated” 66 . Designs-in-practice “foregrounds the incomplete nature of the process and outcomes of design- ing” 67 and refers to the fact that “through engagement with a product or service over time and space, the user or stake- holder continues to be involved in constituting what a design is” 68 . Kimbell cites three main differences in her conception of

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 134.

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 134.

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 132.

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 133.

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 133.

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 133.

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 133.

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 133.

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 133-4.

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 133-4.

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 135.

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 135.

Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 136.

56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
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68

design thinking 69 : it conceives design as “constituted relationally through intra-action of several elements” 70 ; it asks how the par- ticular configurations design may arrive at are constructed 71 ; and finally, it can be used to discuss any designed entity 72 .

In my opinion, Kimbell’s analytical devices and focus on situat- ed practice make for one of the most cogent means of looking at design practice . It also serves to remind me that any under- standing of design ethics must have a means of application in a diversity of design practices.

So, what is design?

For the purposes of this manifesto, design is understood to be any and all things—whether an innate activity or part of a disci- pline—that we do to move from reality to that-which-could-be.

69 Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 136.

70 Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 136.

71 Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 136.

72 Kimbell. “Rethinking Design Thinking: Part 2”, 136.

Ethics + design = what, exactly? Well, that is the understanding I am working toward.

Ethics + design = what, exactly?

Well, that is the understanding I am working toward. Now that a working definition of design has been established, it’s time to incorporate ethical theory.

Let’s begin with some normative ethical theory After much exploration and review of the branches
Let’s begin with some normative ethical theory After much exploration and review of the branches
Let’s begin with some normative ethical theory After much exploration and review of the branches

Let’s begin with some normative ethical theory

After much exploration and review of the branches of norma- tive ethics, casuistry—or its more modern title, case-based reasoning— stands out to me as the most analogous theory for my conception of design ethics.

A poetic article from 1995 by Albert R Jonsen titled “Casuistry:

An Alternative or Complement to Principles“ draws some beautiful metaphoric parallels between design and case-based reasoning. Though the definition listed in many contemporary dictionaries may read otherwise, casuistry “is a traditional method of interpreting and resolving moral problems. It focus- es on the circumstances of particular cases rather than on the application of ethical theories and principles” 73 . Jonsen states that people use case-based reasoning on a daily basis every time they “ruminate about how they ought to act or argue about how others should act or have acted” 74 .

Jonsen uses the metaphor of Matteo Ricci’s ‘memory pal-

ace’—a mental device to aid with the recollection of ideas—to help frame case-based reasoning. 75 In order to relate case- based reasoning to traditional moral and ethical theory, he conceives of a moral memory palace. In this palace, a moral philosopher would be assigned the role of architect and a casuist—one who practices case-based reasoning—the role of

interior

decorator 76 .

The palace, constructed of theory and principles, is empty without the interior design, finishing, and furniture of circumstance. These do not merely stand around as neutral items, but are intrinsic features of the edifice, without which interpretation and appreciation are impossible. 77

To Jonsen, the use of case-based reasoning allows one to “move through the mental spaces of moral argument with ease and enjoyment” 78 .

Case-based reasoning has also found wide application in general decision making, especially computerised decision making. A 1994 article by Aamodt and Plaza states that cases typically consist of a problem, its solution, and information on how the solution was reached 79 . They also divide case-based reasoning into a formalised four-step process:

73 Jonsen, A. R. “Casuistry: An Alternative or Complement to Principles?”. Kennedy Institute of Ethics

Journal, 5, no 3 (1995): 237.

74 Jonsen. “Casuistry: An Alternative or Complement to Principles?”, 237.

75 Jonsen. “Casuistry: An Alternative or Complement to Principles?”, 241.

76 Jonsen. “Casuistry: An Alternative or Complement to Principles?”, 248.

77 Jonsen. “Casuistry: An Alternative or Complement to Principles?”, 248.

78 Jonsen. “Casuistry: An Alternative or Complement to Principles?”, 246.

79 Aamodt A & E Plaza, “Case-Based Reasoning: Foundational Issues, Methodological Variations, and

System Approaches”. Artificial Intelligence Communications, 7, no 1 (1994): 39-52.

Ethics (generally): (noun) also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that involves
Ethics (generally):
(noun) also known as
moral philosophy, is a
branch of philosophy
that involves
systematizing,
defending and
recommending
concepts of right and
wrong conduct.
of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. 2 7
of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. 2 7

1. Retrieve. Gather information on completed cases that share similarities with the target problem 80 .

2. Reuse. Map the solution from the previous case to the target problem, this may involve adapting the previous solution to fit the new situation 81 .

3. Revise. Test the new solution and revise if necessary 82 .

4. Retain. Once a successful solution is reached, the experi- ence is stored as a new case for future reference 83 .

Though the specific application of Aamodt & Plaza’s process is for use by computers, it offers a more rigid counterpoint to Jonsen’s conception and could act as a starting point for a practice-based aspect of my understanding of design ethics.

When combined, the approaches feel congruent with many existing design processes and practices. It also maintains a flexibility for the development of an understanding of design ethics, which goes along with Kimbell’s ideas about the diver- sity of practice.

And on to some more design-specific ethical theory

Beyond normative ethical theory, I set out to identify some authors that discussed the subject as it relates to design. Despite the prevalence of social and sustainable design— areas I believe are firmly rooted in ethical concerns—very little theory explicitly tackles the issue of design ethics. After some digging, I was able to find two authors whose ideas I found useful for developing my own understanding: Charles Burnette and Clive Dilnot.

Charles Burnette is the former Dean of the School of Architec- ture at the University of Texas at Austin, former Director of the Graduate Program in Industrial Design at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, and the former Chairman of its Industrial Design Department. In a series of independently published papers he outlines a new theory of design think- ing and outlines its moral and ethical implications. Burnette relates wider moral and ethical considerations to his “Theory of Design Thinking” model, which contains a series of thought categories that comprise the design process: referential

80 Aamodt & Plaza, “Case-Based Reasoning: Foundational Issues, Methodological Variations, and

System Approaches”, 39-52.

81 Aamodt & Plaza, “Case-Based Reasoning: Foundational Issues, Methodological Variations, and System

Approaches”, 39-52.

82 Aamodt & Plaza, “Case-Based Reasoning: Foundational Issues, Methodological Variations, and

System Approaches”, 39-52.

83 Aamodt & Plaza, “Case-Based Reasoning: Foundational Issues, Methodological Variations, and

System Approaches”, 39-52.

Variations, and System Approaches”, 39-52. thought, relational thought, formative thoughts, procedural
Variations, and System Approaches”, 39-52. thought, relational thought, formative thoughts, procedural
Variations, and System Approaches”, 39-52. thought, relational thought, formative thoughts, procedural

thought, relational thought, formative thoughts, procedural thought, evaluative thought, and reflective thought 84 . To return to the work of Kimbell that was previously discussed, I regard Burnette’s model as one of many possible design prac- tices and therefore not a widely applicable design ethics. He does, however, establish a few interesting ideas worth taking into consideration.

Burnette first makes the distinction that morals refer to the beliefs of an individual and ethics refer to morality put into practice for the greater good. 85 He believes that design and de- sign thinking can help to develop a set of morals and ethics 86 and that they should be separated from “their traditional roots in religion, tribalism, and nationalism“ 87 . Instead, he offers a cogent, scientifically-founded means of explaining moral/eth- ical behaviour:

Genes enable capacities which develop through natural experience to recognize certain recurring types of information; these neural agencies evolve to aford forms of cognition able to recognize, process and synthesize such information in diferent situations. These evolved modes of thought collaborate to express thought and behavior in response to needs and desires that arise from diferent situations. Emotions, feelings, and preferences are applied to value thoughts and behaviors in each situation, and their consequences inform the morals and ethics that guide us as individuals, communities, and cultures. It is this defining, structuring, expressing, processing and valuing structure that afords the possibility to analyze, compare and develop what we believe and do in diferent circumstances. 88

The grounding of ethical ability firmly in human neurobiology echoes back key ideas of casuistry; humans, Burnette says, are hardwired to use case-based reasoning to make moral and ethical decisions. That is not to say our brains make us inca- pable of acting unethically or amorally as the criteria used when making these decisions would differ on an individual basis. It simply recognises that the ability to make compara- tive decisions of an ethical nature is innate within our biology.

84 Burnette, “The Morals and Ethics of A Theory of Design Thinking” 2.

85 Burnette, C. “The Morals and Ethics of A Theory of Design Thinking” accessed 2 September 2013.

http://www.academia.edu/4390557The_Morals_and_Ethics_of_ A_Theory_of_Design_Thinking, 1.

86 Burnette, “The Morals and Ethics of A Theory of Design Thinking” 2.

87 Burnette, “The Morals and Ethics of A Theory of Design Thinking” 2.

88 Burnette, “The Morals and Ethics of A Theory of Design Thinking” 2.

of A Theory of Design Thinking” 2. 88 Burnette, “The Morals and Ethics of A Theory
of A Theory of Design Thinking” 2. 88 Burnette, “The Morals and Ethics of A Theory
of A Theory of Design Thinking” 2. 88 Burnette, “The Morals and Ethics of A Theory

Burnette also makes a distinction between aesthetic judgement and ethical judgement. He concedes that it is possible to “experi- ence aesthetic pleasure in response to an ethically determined valuation” 89 but states that the inverse is not possible because ”aesthetic judgment is situation dependent, immediate, and felt, while ethical judgment is based on knowledge acquired over time across experiences in diferent situations” 90 . This distinction is especially important because aesthetics are often regarded as one of design’s primary concerns.

Ethics? Design?

A design educator and historian, Clive Dilnot lays out a

preliminary outline for a new practice of design ethics in his 45,000-word paper 91 , “Ethics? Design?”. The second in a series published by Chicago architecture firm Archeworks, Dilnot draws on the works of Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Gilles Deleuze, Martin Heidegger, Gillian Rose, Elaine Scarry, Herbert Simon, Gianni Vatimo, among others to nuance his under-

standing of the subject. His text is divided into two parts: Part I contains an understanding of what—theoretically—an ethics

of

this ethics may manifest in practice. This discussion will fo- cus primarily on the information covered in Part I; discussion on Part II can be found in the next chapter.

design might entail, and Part II offers three considerations

Dilnot begins by outlining two dominant approaches to design ethics, which he believes are inadequate. The first—a pragmatic focus—is the development of a set of professional guidelines or principles which designers can apply at the individual level; Dilnot argues that this approach does not

make full use of design’s transformative capabilities 92 . The second focuses on an individual designer’s superego or moral compass and lauds the importance of moral/ethical values, then encourages designers to work whilst keeping those

in mind. Dilnot criticises this approach because the lack of

concrete guidance may ultimately leave the design profes- sion unchanged 93 . In the remainder of the text, Dilnot offers a third—more adequate—approach to design ethics.

A key point that Dilnot makes is that an ethics of design cannot

be separated from ethics per se because the establishment of

89 Burnette, “The Morals and Ethics of A Theory of Design Thinking” 9.

90 Burnette, “The Morals and Ethics of A Theory of Design Thinking” 9.

91 I could have easily written a dissertation on this essay alone. That however, would not have met

the criteria I set for myself for this manifesto, so I’ve done my best to recap only the ideas I found most relevant.

92 Cokelet, B. “The Archeworks Papers, Volume 1, Number 2:

Ethics? Design?” Review of The Archeworks Papers, Volume 1, Number 2, edited by Stanley Tigerman. Design Issues, Volume 23, Number 2, summer 2007, 93.

93 Cokelet. “The Archeworks Papers, Volume 1, Number 2:

Ethics? Design?” 93.

Papers, Volume 1, Number 2: Ethics? Design?” 93. the real what we encounter as given in
Papers, Volume 1, Number 2: Ethics? Design?” 93. the real what we encounter as given in
Papers, Volume 1, Number 2: Ethics? Design?” 93. the real what we encounter as given in

the real what we encounter as given in the world what we encounter as given in the world

possibility the given's possibility for change the given's possibility for change

transformative action the becoming of that which could be
transformative
action
the becoming of that
which could be
transformative action the becoming of that which could be negotiation consumer capitalism over the past two
negotiation
negotiation

consumer capitalism over the past two centuries has created a world where our humanness is in many ways indistinguishable from the artificial 94 . To clarify what he means when discussing ethics, Dilnot quotes Deleuze, stating that “ethics, which is to say a topology of immanent modes of existence replaces morality, which always refers to transcendent values” 95 . For the purpos- es of my manifesto, I interpreted this statement to mean that ethics is concerned with manifestations of divinity in the real world 96 , and represents a shift away from morality (which relies on beliefs taken from more typical notions of divinity). Dilnot’s interpretation of this statement represents a shift from away from the ideal toward the real 97 .

Dilnot also brings in Alain Badiou’s criticism that ethics—in the weak sense—bends to what is necessary 98 . As a counterpoint Dilnot views “ethics in the strong sense as active engagement with the real understood as actuality” 99 . Actuality to Dilnot refers to both what we encounter as given (real) and the given’s capacity for change (possibility) 100 , and also indicates that we understand that the real always includes possibility for “negation, transfor- mation, or reconfiguration” 101 . In other words, Dilnot understands design as the recognition of the possibility of change 102 that

94 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?”, 8.

95 Gilles Deleuze in Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?”, 14.

96 I find this term to be problematic and loaded with ties to organised religion. Instead, I have come to

understand divinity as both the beauty that arises through the coalescence of science and nature to create the real world, and also the extreme potential and resilience possessed by humans.

97 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 14.

98 Alain Badiou in Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 15.

99 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 16.

100 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 16.

101 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 16.

102 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 16.

opens up these possibilities through negotiation 103 .

Dilnot describes design as “a situated process that is a sus- tained examination of what is possible in the realm of the arti- ficial [actuality] and a negotiation with that actuality to realise possibility” 104 . As such, the two primary components of a de- sign ethics Dilnot posits are possibility and negotiation. Possi- bility is the abstract component of design ethics—its content 105 . It represents a transfiguration and illustrates the need to develop ethics that encompass radical change 106 . Negotiation to Dilnot is the concrete or immanent component of design ethics—its form taken in making 107 . It represents configuration and brings up questions of recognition, incommensurability, and mediation 108 . Dilnot gives three realities of which nego- tiation is comprised: the demands and needs of the subject, the limits of the possible (e.g. what is socially, economically, politically, or physically possible), and transformative action 109 . Dilnot also brings up some important considerations about the ethical (design) significance of negotiating possibility:

1.

2.

Negotiation is a diferent way of engaging with actuality. 110

Design is a process of negotiating incommensurability to create configurations (e.g. this resolution, in this way, responding to these circumstances) 111 .

3. One constant pole of incommensurability is the subject; therefore, design can be described as an ethical negotiation around the incommensurability of subject and object 112 . The ethical implications here are found in how the subject is recognised (e.g. understood, listened to, etc.) 113 .

4. Design is an inherently relational activity; every thing has a relationship to everything 114 .

5. Design difers from technology. 115 Technology aims to elimi- nate incommensurability (or, to seek compatibility) whereas design welcomes incommensurability and seeks out all conditions that must be negotiated with as part of the design process, then uses them for inspiration. 116

6. Design as negotiation also means design as mediation. 117

103 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 16.

104 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 16-17.

105 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 28.

106 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 28.

107 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 28.

108 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 28.

109 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 28.

110 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 30.

111 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 31.

112 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 31.

113 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 31.

114 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 32.

115 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 32. Dilnot does not specify, but I assume in this context he is referring to

technology the artefact, and not Buchanan’s notion of technology.

116 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 33-34.

117 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 34-35. Mediation in this sense is what is other to representation.

Mediation in this sense is what is other to representation. Dilnot’s understanding of design ethics as
Mediation in this sense is what is other to representation. Dilnot’s understanding of design ethics as
Mediation in this sense is what is other to representation. Dilnot’s understanding of design ethics as

Dilnot’s understanding of design ethics as a combination of negotiation and possibility align closely with my own ideas about the subject, and his insights into negotiation extends my understanding greatly. As one of the most in-depth texts explicitly relating to design ethics, it is one of the most influ- ential to my research. Though his ideas are highly theoretical they are grounded with a solid philosophical foundation and I find them to have a great resonance with the understanding of design ethics I wish to cultivate.

So, ethics + design = what?

Though not yet complete, within the context of my manifesto I

interpret the previous discussion to conceive design ethics as

a

way(s) in which any/all desired futures can be brought about.

It

is possibility [theoretical aspects] and negotiation [physical

aspects]. It is the physical manifestation of human ideas about what could be that requires the use of our innate ability to think reflectively about previous experiences whilst making decisions. It differs from, and should not be confused with, aesthetic judgement. It is currently incomplete.

This understanding describes the process of design ethics, but cur- rently lacks poles to guide the types of possibilities that should be held as inherently good and worked towards. In the discussion that follows, I will attempt to pin down some guiding poles.

Which possibilities should we strive for? The answer to this question lies in a common

Which possibilities should we strive for?

The answer to this question lies in a common design tactic: take the problem and turn it into a solution.

How do you even begin to answer such a question? One common thread encountered throughout

How do you even begin to answer such a question?

One common thread encountered throughout my research— perhaps quite predictably—is industrial capitalism. Across the board, theorists describe the ways in which industrial capital- ism has fundamentally altered our existence. Upon reviewing the theory collected throughout my research process, three problematic alterations kept rising to the fore. These trans- formations are not discrete, nor are they the definitive list of capitalism’s effects, however, they offer what I believe to be some areas of opportunity—or at the very least consideration— for ethical design. Each issue will be addressed with a brief contextualisation followed by some possible ways design can be used to counter the issue. They will act as the guiding poles for that-which-should-be-regarded-as-good in my understand- ing of design ethics at the present time.

FORGET

FORGET DESIGN AS A TER - A crisis of terrestrial health, or harmony? R I T
FORGET DESIGN AS A TER - A crisis of terrestrial health, or harmony? R I T

DESIGN AS A TER

-

A crisis of terrestrial health, or harmony?

R I

T O R Y

- A crisis of terrestrial health, or harmony? R I T O R Y A N
- A crisis of terrestrial health, or harmony? R I T O R Y A N
- A crisis of terrestrial health, or harmony? R I T O R Y A N
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A N D

crisis of terrestrial health, or harmony? R I T O R Y A N D P

P R A C

T I C E

In the centuries since the Industrial Revolution, the use of production surpluses to expand production capacity has made continual economic growth the status quo 118 and defining marker of ‘progress’. This cycle of consumption and economic growth is widely regarded as a factor of the planet’s impending health crisis. This crisis and its potential solutions are frequently dis- cussed—especially within the design industry.

Though easily dismissed as a polemicist, Tony Fry offers some ideas about the effect humans have had on the planet worth mentioning. In his recent trilogy containing the works Design Futuring, Design as Politics, and Becoming Human by Design, Fry respectively articulates—with immense conviction—that design practice be reconceptualised in a way that is harmoni-

ous with his notion of ‘sustain-ability’ 119 , that designers must politicise themselves as change makers in order to achieve this end 120 , and offers a contextualisation of his mandates within fundamental questions about the nature of human- ness 121 . Thematically speaking—and of particular relevance to this discussion—the ethical implication Fry outlines is that design has a moral obligation to humanity and must put its efforts towards finding a collective ‘finitude’ because design is inextricable from its ability to create potential futures for the world 122 —futures which Fry conceives of as primarily destruc- tive 123 . As such, he believes that politics must shift their focus and become what he calls a ‘dictatorship of sustainment’ 124 .

I find Fry’s dictatorship to be incredibly radical, and as such I have difficulty agreeing with it wholly. Perhaps it is his choice of words that gives me this impression, but in my opinion he leaves no room for what I would describe as ‘grey areas’. For instance, his thesis appears to be that current human life should never—under no circumstances whatsoever—be privileged above sustainment. In theory, this would condemn the existence and use of life-saving medical technology that was borne out of a capitalist economy. I interpret this to mean,

for instance, the promotion of a ban on the production or use

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118 Walker, S. Sustainable By Design: Explorations in Theory and Practice, Earthscan, London, 2006, p. 10.

119 Rowe, A. “Design Futuring: Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice.“ Review of Design Futuring:

Sustainability, Ethics and New Practice, by Tony Fry. Art/Design/Media Subject Centre, 24 November 2009, http://www.adm.heacademy.ac.uk/library/files/resource-reviews/rowe-design-futuring.pdf, 1.

120 Tonkinwise, C. “Against Becoming Unsustainable by Human-Centered Design: A review of Tony Fry

Becoming Human by Design [Berg, 2013].” Review of Becoming Human by Design, by Tony Fry. 2013,

http://www.academia.edu/2985203/_Against_Becoming_Unsustainable_by_Human-Centered_Design

121 Tonkinwise, “Against Becoming Unsustainable by Human-Centered Design: A review of Tony Fry

Becoming Human by Design [Berg, 2013]”.

122 Owens, K. “Design and Politics by Tony Fry.” Review of Design and Politics, by Tony Fry. Design

Philosophy Papers, No 2, 2011, http://www.academia.edu/827369/Design_and_Politics_by_Tony_Fry_A_ review_by_Keith_Owens, 6.

123 Owens, K. “Design and Politics by Tony Fry.” Review of Design and Politics, by Tony Fry. Design

Philosophy Papers, No 2, 2011, http://www.academia.edu/827369/Design_and_Politics_by_Tony_Fry_A_

- review_by_Keith_Owens, 6.

124 Tonkinwise, “Against Becoming Unsustainable by Human-Centered Design: A review of Tony Fry

Becoming Human by Design [Berg, 2013]”.

RICATED AND OCCUPIED

by Human-Centered Design: A review of Tony Fry Becoming Human by Design [Berg, 2013]”. RICATED AND
by Human-Centered Design: A review of Tony Fry Becoming Human by Design [Berg, 2013]”. RICATED AND

3 9

of medications produced in factories powered by conventional means. I cannot bring myself to agree with such an extreme position, and think that so-called ‘Dictatorship of Sustainment’ may have the unintended consequence of subjecting people to humiliation or stripping them of their humanity.

I make mention of Fry’s work to bring up the idea that humans and the planet should not be privileged above one-another; they should exist in balance. As such, the first pole I would like to establish for that-which-should-be-regarded-as-good in my understanding of design ethics is harmony between human existence and terrestrial health. I feel that this pole is quite self-explanatory—sustainability is very much of our zeitgeist— and as extensive discussion and ideas about how to incorpo- rate this pole into design practice are already in existence, I do not wish to belabour my discussion of it at this time 125 .

125 In January 2013 I wrote a detailed paper outlining some methods designers could employ to further

sustainability in their practice. For further information or to gain access contact the author.

employ to further sustainability in their practice. For further information or to gain access contact the

E t h i c a l

t h

i

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i n

A hierarchy of human value, or dignity?

thE wEak sEnsE

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- The second problematic alteration of industrial capitalism was brought to my attention in Part II of Dilnot’s “Ethics? Design?”

- during his discussion of dignity and design in relation to the public sphere 126 . Dilnot points out that capitalism and its

- trappings (mindless consumption, valuing greed, the desire for endless economic growth, etc.) reduce the agency or social worth of individuals to their economic power 127 . In perhaps one of the most poignant passages in the book, Dilnot articulates the ramifications of this system 128 :

forms substantiv

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If we are to consider the politics of the subject today—especially in urban politics in the USA, and globally with respect to “the poor” (urban and rural) then what we are most concerned with is creating the conditions, materially and ideologically, for the reverse of victim-hood—that is for creating subjectivity. We know from our earlier discussions that the Holocaust could only happen once “The Jew” as a category of person has been stripped of all personhood. As we saw in the Berlin project, material deprivation, public humiliation and petty cruelty are integral part of that process [sic]—which is why they precede genocide. But this is also why class-interests in politics have a vested interest in supporting both humiliation and deprivation in however small ways— voter registration processes in Florida let us say, or cut-backs to funding for infrastructure for public education. The point about these processes is that they are erosive of personhood with respect to whom

they are applied. In so far as they succeed (again in even small ways) as subject into a victim and the politics of this, to repeat, is that in so doing one has created a person to whom anything can be done, for the victim—and children know this from playground bullying—is one for whom in contradiction to how we like to think about it, there can be no pity. The aim of all ethical-politics then…has to be to reverse the logic of the victim. One reverses this logic by re-creating the “victim” as a subject with power, and one gives power (the term is literal) by endowing the victim/ subject with value as a subject. 129

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126 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 127-146.

127 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 128.

128 After many attempts to summarise his words in an equally compelling manner, I’ve decided to just

include them as an extended quotation to preserve their gravitas and poetry.

129 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 139-140.

which is disposablE

extended quotation to preserve their gravitas and poetry. 129 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 139-140. which is disposablE
extended quotation to preserve their gravitas and poetry. 129 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 139-140. which is disposablE

4 3

The notion that capitalism is ravaging our planet in an envi- ronmental sense is often articulated, but in this passage, Dilnot articulates a very different type of consequence—one that strips away personhood. As a result, he explains that ethical design calls for design that undoes harm and restores human dignity 130 . This is the foundation for the second pole I would like to establish for that-which-should-be-regarded-as-good in my understanding of design ethics: dignity, the innate right of everyone to be valued and receive ethical treatment. The ob- vious means for employing dignity in the design practice is to create design that actively challenges this problem, but some more nuanced ideas are expanded upon in Part II of Dilnot’s “Ethics?, Design?’.

Dilnot titles his first section of Part II “Compassion, or the Arti- fact: Sentient Perception and the Interior Structure of the Arti- fact” 131 to establish a direct link between artefacts and compas- sion . He states that “all ethics begins with compassion” 132 , but that in the past century we have been unable to make compas- sion political 133 . To tie compassion to design, Dilnot examines the designer’s ability to relieve the pain of others and heavily references the final chapter of Elaine Scarry’s, The Body In Pain 134 . As it relates to ethics, Dilnot states that designers re- lieve suffering not just with empathy to those in pain, but also through a translation (akin to the translation of poetry from one language to another) of their perceptions and understandings of that pain into an artefact which works to alleviate it. 135 Dilnot gives Harry Beck’s 1933 London Underground diagram 136 and references Scarry’s example of the incandescent light bulb 137 as exemplars of this translation.

Dilnot expands the notion of pain from “the sense of our bodily capacities and capabilities to the more general sense of how we feel alive at any moment—which therefore relates also to consciousness and the particularly to self-consciousness of who we are and how we may be” 138 . Though never stated so explicitly, Dilnot is referring to the innate human longing for possibility of what we could be—or rather—desire. He goes on to state that design should strive not only to alleviate pain and suffering, but also to offer “an opening to happiness” 139 .

130 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 140.

131 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 87.

132 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 87.

133 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 87.

Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 88. Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 88. Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 90-91.

137 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 92-93.

136

135

134

138 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 92.

139 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 95. What Heidegger calls, ‘Being of Joy’.

Dilnot links this back to artefacts translating them into gifts— “made things are essentially anonymous gifts” 140 —whose produc- tion should be addressed to a recipient 141 . He maintains that this view of artefacts as gifts may have a lot to ofer in the confound- ing of commodity consumption and subject-subject relations 142 .

Dilnot’s discussion of modesty and radical impurity has two key takeaways for the purpose of this manifesto. First, Dilnot dances around modesty as it relates to design. Through the use of subheadings such as ‘proximity’ and ‘the space of being ordinary’, Dilnot constructs a notion of modesty that can be summed up as focusing on the ‘nearest’ or ‘plainest’ artefacts (those with a primary concern of serving a compassionate end) and not on those which are opulent or borne from self-indulgent aesthetics 143 . Second, Dilnot puts forth the concept of radical impurity, by which he means “design that hovers perpetually between two conditions” 144 . For instance, design that is between such things as: imaginative projection and realisation; artwork and ‘the object made real’; prototype and ubiquitous stereotype; or inventive and everyday 145 . This once again harkens back to Dil- not’s theory that (design) ethics is a negotiation between the real and the ideal, and therefore implicates that to design in a space of radical impurity is to design ethically.

in a space of radical impurity is to design ethically. In summation, with this pole I
in a space of radical impurity is to design ethically. In summation, with this pole I

In summation, with this pole I wish to articulate that the full access to things such as the alleviation of suffering, the exten- sion of human experience, and dignity should not be directly correlated to one’s economic power.

140

141

142

143 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 105-120.

144

Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 121.

145 Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 121.

Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 99. Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 99. Dilnot, “Ethics? Design?, 101.

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A crisis of confidence, or desire?

This final problematic alteration of industrial capitalism is a dis- belief in our own ability to successfully undertake and complete transformative change. It is perhaps the most key of the three, as the subtext of the first two requires transformation.

This issue is covered very thoroughly in Jill Franz’s 2013 key- note presentation at the DRS//Cumulus Oslo 2 nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers. In her address, Franz proposes a new design pedagogy with wide application for education at any level which “regards design learning as a force for engaging the radical self” 146 . In Franz’s context, a radical self is:

one who takes responsibility for designing their own existence, who is intensely desiring of reform and transformation despite risk, disruption and ambiguity; who contests intentions to control preferring to adopt

a nuanced, textured approach to life; who embraces uncertainty because of the impetus it provides to move beyond the world that is 147 .

Franz states that there is a general consensus (amongst the media, government, design industry, business, etc.) that abductive reasoning and creative problem solving must be used to solve the ‘wicked’ problems of our postnormal world 148 — including, in this context, the two aforementioned problematic alterations. However, she believes we currently lack the confi- dence to see such transformation through, using the Ziauddin Sardar quote, “in our time it is possible to dream all dreams of visionary futures but almost impossible to believe we have the capability or commitment to make any of them a reality” 149 to articulate the idea poetically.

of nEith

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Franz explains this crisis of confidence by stating that humans have undergone ‘the extinction of experience’ 150 as capitalism has changed transformed the relationship children have with nature from direct exposure to an indirect and virtual experi- s ence 151 . Franz believes these indirect experiences—mediated by technology—limit children’s opportunities “to experience won- a der and surprise and for dealing with uncertainty, risk, and fail-

-

146 Franz, Jill. “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.” Keynote Presentation

for DRS//Cumulus Oslo 2013-2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers, Oslo, Norway, 16 May 2013.

147 Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self

148 Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.

149 Sardar, Z. “Welcome to postnormal times.” Futures, 42, no. 5, (2010 quoted in Franz, “[Design] Learning:

A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.” How does this relate to Dilnot’s notion of ethics being the mediation between the real and ideal if our faith in our own ability to create the ideal no longer

exists?

150 Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.” The ‘extinction of

experience’ refers to a sense of disembodiment or alienation from nature and the natural world.

151 Kellert, S. Building for Life. Washington: Island Press, 2005, 45 quoted in Franz, “[Design] Learning: A

Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.”

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4 9

ure” 152 ultimately leaving them with “reduced opportunities to develop resilience and adaptive, critical and creative responses and to build an experiential repository for future. To Franz, this shift changes the ways in which we define our humanness. In this particular instance, an extinction of experience with nature has shaken the confidence in our ability to successfully undertake transformative change 153 . This is the backgrund for the third pole I would like to establish for that-which-should- be-regarded-as-good in my understanding of design ethics:

desire as a source of inspiration and motivation.

As a means of counteracting this crisis of confidence, Franz introduces aspects of Nelson & Stolterman’s 2010 work, The Design Way—specifically the idea of desiderata (that-which- is-desired). Nelson and Stolterman argue that we typically attempt to solve problems with a negotiation between that- which-is and that-which-ought-to-be but do not include that-which-is-desired (desiderata) 154 . Instead, they argue that we should include desiderata and use humanity’s hardwired desire—to thrive and not merely survive—to reinvigorate our transformative action 155 . They offer the idea that “desire is the destabilizing trigger for transformational change, which facilitates the emergence of new possibilities and realizations of human ‘being’” 156 .

The significance of this is that design can enable a “positive impulse born out of the desire to create situations, systems of organisation, or concrete artefacts that enhance our life expe- riences” 157 . As Franz puts it, “a shift to include desires as well as needs, for all concerned, might invoke greater potential and embodied generative capacity of design for transformational change 158 ”. Franz and Nelson & Stolterman believe desiderata could help to restore faith in our abilities to create transfor- mation as it can “help initiate a certain kind of design action, capacity, or agency linking this human capacity to human achievement in a highly productive way” 159 .

In this way, desiderata can be can be thought as of “that- which-is-not-yet” 160 and the creation of transformative change through desiderata contains three dimensions: “what we want

152 Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.

153 Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.

154 Nelson, H & E Stolterman. The Design Way, 2 nd Edition. London: The MIT Press, 2010, 117 quoted in

Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.

155 Nelson, H & E Stolterman. The Design Way, 2 nd Edition. London: The MIT Press, 2010, 117 quoted in

Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.

156 Nelson, H & E Stolterman. The Design Way, 2 nd Edition. London: The MIT Press, 2010, 110 quoted in

Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.

157 Nelson, H & E Stolterman. The Design Way, 2 nd Edition. London: The MIT Press, 2010, 111 quoted in

Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.

158 Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.

159 Nelson, H & E Stolterman. The Design Way, 2 nd Edition. London: The MIT Press, 2010, quoted in Franz,

“[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.

160 Nelson, H & E Stolterman. The Design Way, 2 nd Edition. London: The MIT Press, 2010, 117 quoted in

Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.

(our aesthetics); what we believe ought to be (our ethics); that which needs to be (corresponding to reason)” 161 . In relation to design, Franz voices Nelson & Stolterman’s belief that design should intentionally direct evolution rather than allow evolu- tion to happen as a reactive trigger to negative change 162 as it ensures design is a “grounded and purposeful activity”.

ensures design is a “grounded and purposeful activity”. 161 Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for
ensures design is a “grounded and purposeful activity”. 161 Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for

161 Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.” The ‘extinction of

experience’ refers to a sense of disembodiment or alienation from nature and the natural world.

162 Nelson, H & E Stolterman. The Design Way, 2 nd Edition. London: The MIT Press, 2010, 117 quoted in

Franz, “[Design] Learning: A Productive Force for Engaging the Radical Self.

Harmony, dignity, and desire Though in the previous paragraphs I used each pole as a

Harmony, dignity, and desire

Though in the previous paragraphs I used each pole as a means of counteracting one specific alteration, they all have applications for each of the alterations. For instance, harmony between human existence and terrestrial health could also have the effect of restoring childhood experiences with nature and therefore help reduce our crisis of confidence. Or, the desire to expand human capability can can also be a tool to use in the creation of dignity for all. They are by no means meant to be used only for one purpose, but wherever feels appropriate or

practical. New poles can also be added as necessary.
practical. New poles can also be added as necessary.

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Image Credits

Cover Image Thompson, M. 3 February 2013, Devonport, Plymouth, United Kindgom. An abandonded shopfront.

Page 24 Reddit User ‘Dead_Motherfucker” 31 January 2013, Barcelona, Spain. Roof of the nave in the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família.

Page 31 Flickr User ‘Nite_Owl” 28 February 2007. Braun radio designed by Dieter Rams.

Page 35 Mun, Sang., 20 June 2013. ZZX typeface and specimen poster inspired by US goverment surveil- lance of online activities.

Page 39 Thompson, M, July 2013. Visualised diagram of Dilnot’s theory.

Page 41 Shoes for H.O.P.E. Water bottles turned into crude shoes in sub-saharan Africa.

Page 45 Thomspon, M. September 2013, Picasso quote tattooed on a man’s left shoulder.

Page 49 Ollennu, Davis. June 15, 2011. Korle Lagoon, Ghana. Two men scavange for sellable materials in a dumping ground technological waste imported from the global north.

Page 55 Lamb, B. Cubicle Dwellers, 2. December 2012. Society for Community Organization, Hong Kong. A man eats a meal alone, surrounded by his possessions in one of Hong Kong’s infamous ‘cage apartments’.

Page 61 AmazonSupply.com Assorted Edison squirrel-cage lightbulbs.

Kong’s infamous ‘cage apartments’. Page 61 AmazonSupply.com Assorted Edison squirrel-cage lightbulbs. 6 0 6 1
Colophon This man text of this book was set in Quadon. Quadon was designed by
Colophon
This man text of this book was set in Quadon. Quadon was designed by
Réne Bider to fill the gap between traditional serifs and the lasting trend
of using sans serif fonts for contemporary design. The result is a modern,
clear and infinitely flexible interpretation of slab serif fonts. The open
shapes and a large x-height keep the font legible in small sizes while the
short descender supports the compact heart and strength of a slab serif.
Quadon has a wide range of typographic features and alternative glyphs
to create your own and unique version of it. It comes in nine diferent
weights with matching italics. From the sensitive but sharp thinner
weights to the punchy and powerful heavy weights, Quadon is well-suit-
ed for a wide range of versatile tasks. Réne Bider generously gave me a
copy of his typeface to be used in this manifesto. Many thanks, Réne!
A small run of this book has been printed and hand bound by the author
for limited distribution, of which this is number
.
small run of this book has been printed and hand bound by the author for limited
small run of this book has been printed and hand bound by the author for limited
small run of this book has been printed and hand bound by the author for limited