The problem of de-sign as conjuring: empowerment-in-use and the politics of seams

Cristiano Storni


In this paper, I articulate a critique of design as conjuring (design as de-sign) and I argue that it is incompatible with the idea of user empowerment. In particular, I discuss the idea of empowerment-in-use and I highlight the role of design seams and scars in supporting it through appropriation and design-after-design. To support this argument, I draw on some recent contributions in Participatory Design (PD), Human Computer Interaction (HCI), New Media Studies, and Science and Technology Studies (STS), and I discuss three illustrative case studies from the area of digital Do-it-Yourself (DIY). I argue that restoring the sign in de-sign through design seams and scars can be a way to explore different forms and perhaps deeper levels of critical engagement and participation supporting empowerment.

Full text at ACM