Accepted Paper:

The kinship of design and science - Enlarging STS concepts  


Valentin Janda (Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin)

Paper long abstract:

Following an ethnographic approach I am currently conceptualizing the practices of three design processes observed in a design research laboratory in Berlin. The proximity to scientific practices as described in STS is remarkable. In both fields, facts and artefacts exert a gravitational pull on the conducted practices. Pickering's 'mangle of practice' or Latour's 'translations' point out that science is a truly physical endeavour. Both design and science have in common to rely on knowledge and material setups. They differ, however, in their outcomes, design mostly takes the form of new objects whereas Knorr and Latour show that scientists aim at the production of papers. Furthermore, design seems to be messier, thus not fitting into the conceptualisations of science in STS. Dewey's 'pattern of inquiry', the 'mangle of practice' or the concept of 'translation' give a broad idea of design-work but bypass its crucial details.

Enlarging the perspective shows different types of representations like sketches, descriptions and mockups. They supply drafts with intersubjective relevance, help to test functions and shed light on future usage. These representations of drafts along with practices like drawing, building, testing and of course discussing stabilize and destabilize certain drafts, therefore shaping the design process. Creativity and innovation all result from certain types of material interaction.

Science and design have a lot in common regarding the notion of practice. Focussing on studying design practices offers new ways for refining STS concepts.

Panel S13
Distributed creativity: Materials, technologies and topologies in media art and design