Design, Technology and Society

Track Subchairs

Daniel Cardoso Llach
Carnegie Mellon University, USA

Terry Knight


Ignacio Farías
Technische Universität München, Germany

Theodora Vardouli
McGill University, Canada

Lilly Irani
UC San Diego

Track Session at the Design Research Society Conference, Limmerick, Ireland, 2018

The Design, Technology and Society track offers new critical perspectives and creative insights into the roles of technological systems and discourses in the design and production of our built environment. As computation, software, simulations, digital fabrication, robotics, ‘big data,’ artificial intelligence, and machine learning configure new imaginaries of designing and making across fields, the track approaches these subjects critically from enriched socio-material, technical and historical perspectives —revealing how conceptions of creativity, materiality, and labor have shifted and continue to shift in conjunction with technological change. We seek contributions that reflect on themes including but not exclusive to:

  • Historical papers examining the roles of university laboratories, government sponsored research, public policies or technology companies in shaping ideas, systems and practices of computation in design;
  • Studies of specific computational artifacts, formal languages, algorithms or software which examine their material and cultural histories and their role in enabling new design practices and discourses;
  • Ethnographic studies unveiling cultures where computational ideas and methods have shaped conceptual or practical aspects of design;
  • Research projects addressing design critically from an enriched socio-material perspective accounting for the agencies —both human and non-human— involved in the design, operation of and interaction with computational systems;
  • Studies reporting on speculative or critical technologies addressing questions about the design process, envisioning alternative modes of design participation or engagement with traditions, materials, and the body, or probing innovative theories and practices of design.

Note: The track will seek to channel projects and ideas in conjunction with the new edited Routledge book series in “Design, Technology and Society.” (Link to series’ website.)

Indicative References

Suchman, Lucy. Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Henderson, Kathryn. On Line and on Paper: Visual Representations, Visual Culture, and Computer Graphics in Design Engineering. Inside Technology. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1999.

Loukissas, Yanni A. Co-Designers: Cultures of Computer Simulation in Architecture. New York: Routledge, 2012.

coons, g., & Ratto, M. Grease pencils and the persistence of individuality in computationally produced custom objects. Design Studies, 41A (2015): 126–136.

Farias, Ignacio and Alex Wilkie eds. Studio Studies: Operations, Topologies & Displacements. Routledge, 2015.

Vardouli, Theodora. “Who Designs? Technological Mediation in Design Participation.” In Empowering Users Through Design, Bihanic, D. Springer, 2015.

Knight, T., & Stiny, G. “Making grammars: From computing with shapes to computing with things.” Design Studies, 41A, (2015): 8–28.
Cardoso Llach, Daniel. Builders of the Vision: Software and the Imagination of Design. London, New York: Routledge, 2015.