18 October 2011


"Making Matters Matter to Man"

It is now 19 months since I last reviewed my vision, see below. These months have seen little writing but much thinking and doing, se further under 008 What is new?

My vision has not changed but rather been confirmed. The world of design has got its new buzz word: Design Thinking. This is not primarily 'thinking for design' but applying the thinking used by designers in other problem solving processes which do not concern the design of objects and buildings. Design Thinking is about applying a human approach: Firstly: what conditions fairly basic human behaviour and acts and how they are performed. Secondly: how shall we develop technology to meet these human requirements (instead of trying to adjust humans to technological innovations and create new 'needs')? Design Thinking offers gains for humans as well as for business: more successful product development and efficient use of technology and technological research. Negatives? Design Thinking might risk being applied as a method, which in the end will give shallow results. Thinking is always based on knowing and searching for knowledge. And the most successful thinking in design is based on natural logic or lived experience, what many of us would call intuition. But to apply it we must know what it is all about and where we can learn more about it. One little talked about aspect of design thinking, at its best, is that it often preconditions durability beyond the material: what is not approriate for humans will be like any other fashion item: shortlived!

To be continued in my forthcoming book: "Making Matters Matter to Man", to be published by Arvinius, Stockholm 2012.

(9 March 2010) I have critically read the vision, I expressed here two and a half years ago, see below.
It is with certain pleasure, I state that I can still stand up for what I then wrote: a design view which not merely theoretically but in its application fuses body and mind. Moreover, the differentiation between human ways of being, the fairly stable, basic principles ruling our life, and human ways of living, the changing cultural principles influencing our life, still seems as relevant as when I first developed these notions.

The irrelevance of Cartesian dualism appears increasingly obvious as neuroscience continues to inform us about the function of our brain, not least the influence of the non-conscious, the limits of rational thinking and the sense of what we are used to call nonsense. This could be re-written non-sense: not the result of conscious, rational thinking but of non-conscious cognition based on experience.
Is this a return to pure phenomenology in a philosophical sense? As I wrote already in my revised presentation, the biggest threat to human [sustainable] development is when the aim for 'pure knowledge' and rigid borders between disciplines create obstacles for a holistic view. Neuroscience is unlikely to make phenomenology obsolete or diminish its importance: on the contrary, a dialogue between these disciplines have a chance to enhance understanding of humans and human behaviour.
The academic divide today goes principally between those who insist that we control the brain and those who imply that the brain also controls us.

Which relevance has my arguements then for design and designers?
Basically: if designers [or architects, or urban planners ..] believe that humans are predominantly rational, cultural creatures in charge of their choices and actions, the will execute their profession in a way, which has much too little bearing in reality.
Anthropology has as a result started to be re-valued as a planning instrument in as diverse areas as urban planning and branding. We humans do not/cannot express what we are not conscious about but we act it. We cannot describe an object or an environment we would want to keep and sustain, but we react and act when we are faced with something which raises emotions. These could be fast passing but if a person continues to talk about his/her encounter, the emotion has turned into a feeling, which migh in turn cause a deeper affection. Affections do not easily go away.