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  • 2019Thomasphd

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Towards “after-modern” design: a practice-based inquiry

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
  • Lisa Thomas
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Publication date2019
Number of pages271
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Thesis sponsors
  • EPRSC
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This practice-based PhD investigates the possibility that neutral understandings of technology associated with the instrumentally rational modern worldview restrict product design education from contributing to sustainability in a substantive manner. The concept of “after-modern” design is developed as a means of addressing the shortcomings of the modern and postmodern worldviews – and to support design education to move beyond these worldviews.

A theoretical basis for “after-modern” design is developed by synthesising insights from the philosophy of technology (especially phenomenology and postphenomenology), critical approaches to design, and human values literature relating to self-enhancement and self-transcendence values. The concept of “after-modern” design is further advanced via a research through design approach and by conducting workshops with design students. The original contributions to knowledge that this thesis makes relate to:

• The research method of conducting “after-modern” design inquiries: This method advocates creating highly conceptual “inquiring objects” to investigate how unsustainable self-enhancement values become embodied in technological artefacts and associated systems. These objects invite the design student to “see” familiar technologies through a lens of unfamiliar materials and ideas. In doing so, the objects support the discernment of directions for design that are rooted in an alternate set of values that challenge the unsustainable norms of late-modernity.

• The process of creating “inquiring objects”: Aspects of the designing process are identified that support design students to challenge the limitations that the prevailing modern worldview places upon their practice.

• An eight-point framework for the “after-modern” design of personal digital devices and associated technologies: The framework proposes eight transferable qualities that point to “after” modernity by potentially encouraging self-transcendence values, which are known to foster more sustainable ways of living.