Culture & Society

Design does not take place in a vacuum. In fact, designers operate in an entangled world. If we look at the world as complex environments or ecologies consisting of multiple people, products and systems which are entangled, unpredictable and interdependent, what does that mean for design? To find out, we have to look at the big picture.

We must unravel things to understand the role of design and the impact it has. To find the meaning of design in a broader sense.

Instead of looking at direct intended users and usage, this elective course zooms out to look at a larger whole, to see how design affects people and the whole ecology where they will land. But also, the other way around, how cultures and societies influence the way designers think and act.

Learn to analyse, or study this entangled world by exploring theory that is rooted in anthropology and sociology. Learn about socio-cultural concepts like culture; power, structure & agency; identity & consumption, and change. This requires an open mind and reconsidering own values and ways of seeing and thinking, looking at our world as an outsider, with a sense of curiosity, and asking critical questions. Our way to develop this understanding is together; through close reading and critical and sometimes provocative discussions in lectures and seminars.

This course will provide you a language, distinctions, and examples to better position yourself, set a direction and present your work, and above all to make you sensitive for the meaning of design in a larger whole.

Power of Ten by Ray and Charles Eames (1977)
Power of Ten by Ray and Charles Eames (1977)

Course Coordinator's perspective

“I hope this class helps people discover the relevance of the subject that we explore and that they are inspired to develop their own view on what design can mean in a larger context in society.”

Annemiek van Boeijen

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