Mapping Design Things: Framing design as a performative act
University of Edinburgh

Event Type:

Off-site event


T-Room, 1st Floor Evo House (1.09), EH1 2LE


26 Jan 2017
16:00 - 18:00



Michael Pierre Johnson
Mapping Design Things

Mapping Design Things: Framing design as a performative act

Event info

Mapping Design Things: Framing design as a performative act
University of Edinburgh Seminar with Michael Pierre Johnson

Thursday 26th January 4pm
T-Room, 1st Floor Evo House (1.09), EH1 2LE

From innovation-driven cultures to democratic, participatory approaches, engagement with increasingly complex disciplinary situations means that design is becoming “a more integrated activity involving collaboration among many different professions” (Cross, 2011:91). For designers, this emerging notion of design has resulted in an expansive array of approaches, co-design tools, activities, data gathering techniques and visualisations. The meaning of these design things (Binder et al., 2011) in practice can’t be taken for granted as ‘matters of fact’ (Latour, 2005), which raises a key challenge for design: ‘where are the visualization tools that allow the contradictory and controversial nature of matters of concern to be represented?’ (Latour, 2008:9). Through a PhD thesis and ongoing design research, a response to this challenge has been to develop a visual method of mapping translated from actor-network theory (ANT) called actor-network mapping. Foregrounding ANT’s focus on observation and description, the approach was applied as a frame (Callon, 1986) for representing the performative agency of design things in cases of design-led innovation. This would then undergo a process of situational analysis (Clarke, 2005) with participants to trace the matters of concern present in a complex design situation.

Dr Michael Pierre Johnson is a post-doctoral Research Fellow with The Institute of Design Innovation at The Glasgow School of Art, with experience in ethnographic research and design-led approaches to inform product, digital, service and organisational innovation. His research centres on making the effects and viability of design innovation approaches, and the preferable changes they seek to serve, more explicit within increasingly complex collaborative contexts. Michael’s AHRC-funded PhD was awarded in 2016 and was supported as part of the knowledge exchange hub, Design in Action. He currently works as part of Experience Labs, within the Digital Health and Care Institute, and as part of Design Innovation for New Growth, an AHRC-funded follow-on project from Design in Action.