Design as “nomadic practice”

In chapter 2 of Ron Wakkary’s book, “Things We Could Design: For More Than Human-Centered Worlds”, design is described as a “nomadic practice” (Wakkary, 2021). From what I can grab out of this chapter, design occurs through the act of designing something. It cannot exist without something being designed. Unlike hard sciences, design does not exist upon a body of knowledge nor does it rely on it. It changes with the act of what is designed and the purpose driving the design. Situated knowledge is fluid for design.

Design lives on a spectrum from sedentary to nomadic practice. Sedentary practices are bound upon constraints which shape power and roles that the players (tools) of design. When something is designed through nomadic practice, the players (tools) of design carry less rigid identity (ex. Chess vs. Go).

This open ended way of defining design helps me understand what I find it difficult to describe what I do. The common thread of what I do is design, but it occurs in different discipline of work. It ranges across what I do as an educator, artist, and what I like to call myself as an “indie learner”.

Wakkary, R. (2021). Things we could design: For more than human-centered worlds. The MIT Press.

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