Accepted Paper:

Let's try to save the Ruhrgebiet: exploring design and its products  
Alexander Schwinghammer (Bauhaus University Weimar)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the new routes product design is taking recently as it is apparently deserting its foundation as a material and or object oriented profession.

Paper long abstract:

The notion of design is popular in recent anthropological research. Commonly either design objects are perceived from through an anthropological lens or the processes of or in design is appropriated for (experimental) anthropological research. Both approaches allow to productively transplant the trade of design within the disciplinary area of anthropology: either through a material culture or a somewhat metaphorical-methodological perspective.

This paper tries to refer to both approaches by exploring the actual happening of design as it focusses the actual trade of product designers in the 21st century.

The empirical base for this paper stems from the observations of design education pathways in Germany. Terms like "Gestaltung" and "Entwurf" form vital and affective aspects in German design education, reaching beyond its common translation as "Design". Traditionally this vocation as part of the industrialization of the material world seeks out to generate object is the very literal sense. However, in view of recent changes immaterial products as well appear to be included in the scope of product design.

A recent example for change is an urban development project in the German city of Dortmund in which designers formed the central group setting out to provide alternatives to a challenged neighbourhood. In this assemblage of different collaborative spheres, it became apparent that the actual undertaking of the designers might eventually not entail a material object, the genuine outcome of a design process. This paper is a tale of product design becoming contested as it questions the tasks expected from a designer.

Panel P050
Anthropologies of collective design experiments