Bling? Roles and Contradictions in Design
Abstract: In their professional practice, designers serve different roles as experts in user behaviour, taste experts and conveyors of symbolic meaning. Combining these roles, however, is not necessarily unproblematic, especially so in contexts that are incongruent with the personal preferences of the designer. In seeking to understand this challenge in designers’ professional practice, it is relevant to highlight the contradictions surrounding these roles. Thus, the main focus of this project has been to identify the potential challenges designers face in dealing with expressions which are strongly value-laden in relation to the norms and values of the designers themselves. A seminar for design researchers and a workshop for design students were held on a theme characterized by strong and contrasting product expressions, “Blinging up Eco”, which they were to discuss and explore as a source of inspiration. Insights from these interventions indicated that designers found the Bling theme provoking – at least they did so initially. Making explicit underlying norms and values and understanding the mechanism behind them can be quite challenging. This thesis suggests that contradictions and breaches can be utilized in design practice in order to increase awareness regarding personal prejudices. Transforming prejudices into conscious breaches through informed provocation can thus serve as an entry point for a creative design practice, as powerful and useful as any other source of inspiration for designers in their work
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