Journal Article
Making Use: Attitudes to Human-Artifact Engagements

“Function” and “use” are keywords that design researchers customarily employ when referring to human-artifact engagements. However, there is little consensus about how the concepts of function and use relate to each other, to the intentions of “designers” and “users”, or to their actions and encompassing contexts. In this paper, I synthesize literature from design research, material culture studies, design anthropology, and function theory in order to critically compare different attitudes to human-artifact engagements, implicit in characterizations of function and use. I identify design-centric, communicative, and use-centric attitudes, and discuss their assumptions and implications for design theory. I conclude by outlining principles for theoretically and computationally approaching use as an embodied and temporally contingent process - as a form of “making”.

Title
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsVardouli T
JournalDesign Studies
Volume41
Pagination137-161
Date Published11/2015
Abstract

“Function” and “use” are keywords that design researchers customarily employ when referring to human-artifact engagements. However, there is little consensus about how the concepts of function and use relate to each other, to the intentions of “designers” and “users”, or to their actions and encompassing contexts. In this paper, I synthesize literature from design research, material culture studies, design anthropology, and function theory in order to critically compare different attitudes to human-artifact engagements, implicit in characterizations of function and use. I identify design-centric, communicative, and use-centric attitudes, and discuss their assumptions and implications for design theory. I conclude by outlining principles for theoretically and computationally approaching use as an embodied and temporally contingent process - as a form of “making”.