The Age of Meaning
As designers are increasing designing with ‘others’ it is important for them be aware of the effects of their practices on the ‘others’, including the ways the ‘others’ are represented in the objects/ services they produce.
Designing with Others
Designing with others can be understood when designers are working in cross-functional teams (Hall, 1997; Kidder, 2005) with members from different organisational functional departments or in cross-disciplinary teams with members with different disciplinary backgrounds (Poggenpohl, 2009) or in intercultural teams in which members are distributed geographically in different organisations and even countries (Eppinger & Chitkara, 2006, 2009; Marcus, 2009; Packman & Casmir, 1999).
Designing with/for Others
Following the work of Bourdieu, du Gay, Hall, Janes, Mackay and Negus (1997, p. 62) stated that: “Designers are key cultural intermediaries” and in this role they “play an active role in promoting consumption through attaching to products and services particular meanings and ‘lifestyles’ with which consumers will identify.” Thus, as they are involved in designing for others (i.e. clients/consumers/users), designers need to develop an understanding of how the others, who consume these products and services, are making meaning from these.
According to du Gay, et al. (1997, p. 62), designers are not just designing functions they are designing “symbolic goods and services”. This is closely related to how we understand culture and how we can make a sense of how artefacts/services are informed by and are informing ‘culture’.
One implication is that “meaning is constructed through cultural practices” and this is applicable to not only those consuming the products and services but also for those who are actively involved in production of these products and services such as designers. Designers “are concerned to create an identification between producers and consumers through their expertise in certain signifying practises” (du Gay, 1997, p. 5).
du Gay, P. (Ed.). (1997). Production of Culture/Cultures of Production. London: Sage.
du Gay, P., Hall, S., Janes, L., Mackay, H., & Negus, K. (1997). Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman. London, Great Britain: Sage Publications.
Eppinger, S. D., & Chitkara, A. R. (2006). The New Practice of Global Product Development. MIT Sloan Management Review, 47(4), 22–30.
Eppinger, S. D., & Chitkara, A. R. (2009). The Practice of Global Product Development. MIT Sloan Management Review, Summer, 2–11.
Hall, S. (1997). The Work of Represnetation. In S. Hall (Ed.), Representation: Cultural Representations and Sygnifing Practices (pp. 1564). London: Sage.
Kidder, J. L. (2005). Style and Action: A Decoding of Bike Messenger Symbols. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 34(2), 344–367. doi: 10.1177/0891241605274734
Marcus, A. (2009). Light and Livley: Running a Virtual Design Studio. In S. Poggenpohl & K. Sato (Eds.),Design Integration: Research and Collaboration (pp. 181–201). Bristol: Intellect.
Packman, H. M., & Casmir, F. L. (1999). Learning from the Euro Disney Experience: A Case Study in International/Intercultural Communication. International Communication Gazette, 61(6), 473489. doi: 10.1177/0016549299061006002
Poggenpohl, S. H. (2009). Practicing Collaborative Action in Design. In S. Poggenpohl & K. Sato (Eds.),Design Integration: Research and Collaboration (pp. 137–162). Bristol: Intellect.