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Arational Design


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This presentation is a condensed version of a paper by the same name. It argues that design, despite its best efforts, tends to position itself as a rationalist practice, which leads to unsustainable design methods, reductionism in design theory, and a lack of sufficient self-care.

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Arational Design

  1. 1. Arational Design Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  2. 2. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt Thomas Wendt pronouns: they or he Design Facilitator Strategist and Researcher Design Critic Author Based in NYC Research Interests: HCD, sustainability, design philosophy, co-operative and participatory design, design ethics and the politics of design
  3. 3. Text Section Title Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt %2Fn%2Flecture-11%2Fdeck%2F2874205&psig=AFQjCNEwxR51p_nGxQYiyia1Bs14LCZ-hg&ust=1473776442722326
  4. 4. Designers rely too heavily on rationalist thinking Rationality is unsustainable Arationality is a form of self-care Premises Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  5. 5. Designers rely too heavily on rationalist thinking Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  6. 6. "I shall consider that the heavens, the earth, colours, figures, sound, and all other external things are nought but the illusions and dreams of which this [evil] genius has availed himself in order to lay traps for my credulity; I shall consider myself as having no hands, no eyes, no flesh, no blood, nor any senses.” René Descartes %2F2014%2F09%2F03%2Fsocrates-meets-descartes-a-fun-little-primer-on-cartesian-philosophy%2F&bvm=bv. 134052249,d.cWw&psig=AFQjCNF9Ic1tSiUPRSBsiue350xpMUOsNQ&ust=1475158305383552
  7. 7. Think > Act Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  8. 8. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt %2Fbasket-weaving%2F&psig=AFQjCNHU6O8QBjap_DarrcK2utbXe7CpHQ&ust=1473538085224805
  9. 9. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt %3Ds2CEifdUSp4&psig=AFQjCNEvMKdF1SaqpYUXIOoKcGAkmawrlA&ust=1473193905567332
  10. 10. Design Methods Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  11. 11. Rationality is unsustainable Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  12. 12. 1. Plan the thing 2. Make the thing 3. Convince people they need the thing 4. ??? 5. Profit How Industry Works Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  13. 13. "The knowledge acquired in craft work is systemized logically; the observable effects of this work become the object of explanation attempts. A new type of interaction with nature arises, supported first by architects and finally by engineers. They interact with nature by calculating it. The architect plans on the drawing board with the aid of assumptions on statics and material properties. The engineer recombines nature and calculates the energetic effects that result from it for people. By expanding this activity, society enters a new state of nature." Klaus Eder %2F2013%2F10%2F07%2Fhenry-fords-moving-automotive-assembly-line-turns-100%2F&bvm=bv.134052249,d.cWw&psig=AFQjCNFl29ExXTu0bt6CfCMDKfegou10nA&ust=1475158396070781
  14. 14. “Mastery of nature is achieved through clever calculation, what the authors will call ‘instrumental rationality,’ an extension of the logic of sacrifice. This ‘rational’ domination of nature, again understood as the control of fate or mythic forces, preserves the self of instrumental rationality. Domination of external nature is accomplished by way of the internal domination of the self – that is, through sacrificial self-denial” Martin Bruce vallianatos%2Fthe-meanspirited-and-empty_b_3386187.html&bvm=bv.134052249,d.cWw&psig=AFQjCNHIgzWiLlm_us1O_yxGQ3tJDpWL-A&ust=1475158571171732
  15. 15. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt %2F140456906890%2Fby-quentinesmebrown&psig=AFQjCNGSmK6xVnwFH5_M2KaK7ehR6A5MAQ&ust=1473777053695060
  16. 16. “Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization.” Derrick Jensen 134052249,d.cWw&psig=AFQjCNEZWLKhl0k3TOB0jXagmeqTbuRLfA&ust=1475158668894624
  17. 17. Arationality is a form of self-care Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  18. 18. Reductionism Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  19. 19. We cannot think about solutions until we understand problems AND We cannot understand a problem until we think about solutions Problem-solution paradox
  20. 20. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  21. 21. Arational Design Praxis-based design methods and principles that embrace and shape the designer’s individuality by resisting instrumentalism, scientific notions of progress, and innovation fetishism. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  22. 22. Thinking = Making Experiential Understanding Divergence and Convergence Design Thinking Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  23. 23. Reduce hierarchy Involve “non-designers” Collective decision making Confront socio-cultural complexity Participatory Design Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  24. 24. Embrace paradoxes Create points of view Fit futures into existing systems Frame Innovation Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  25. 25. Design for discourse Surface political implications of design Provocations over deliverables Critical Design Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  26. 26. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  27. 27. “Neu Bildung has to learn to speak the unspeakable—it cannot tolerate the good manners of terminal humanism as it stands on the edge of the abyss. Rather than serving the ‘human’ it has to help shatter it and thereafter remake our ‘being here’ within a politics of absolute care.” Tony Fry 131669213,d.dmo&psig=AFQjCNEqafTzdx24wCXx0YFhR5nWq0WVyw&ust=1472843183166135
  28. 28. Thomas Wendt Surrounding Signifiers @thomas_wendt
  29. 29. Thomas Wendt @thomas_wendt Full paper: Slides: First book: Forthcoming book: