The Role of Material Objects in the Design Process: A Comparison of Two Design Cultures and How They Contend with Automation

TitleThe Role of Material Objects in the Design Process: A Comparison of Two Design Cultures and How They Contend with Automation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsHenderson, K.
Secondary TitleScience, Technology & Human Values
Abstract

This article compares two cultures of engineering design, one flexible and interactive, the other rigid and hierarchical. It examines the practices of design engineers who use a mixture of paper documents and computer graphics systems and contrasts these with the practices of workers reengineering their own work process and its technological support system, using predesigned software. Based on the idea from actor network theory that objects participate in the shaping of new technologies and the networks that build them, the study reveals that (1) design cultures are intrinsically tied to the way in which their representations are constructed because such representations—sketches, drawings, prototypes—are the heart of design work; (2) such design tools can engage or restrict participation in the design process; (3) politics in the form of management prerogatives can be built into a design tool, influencing the range of creativity allowed and innovation accomplished in a given sociotechnological setting.

URLhttp://sth.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/23/2/139