pp.1-24: J. Boehnert

“Design vs. the Design Industry: Conflicts in Emergent Orders”
Studies in Emergent Order, Vol. 6 (2013)


In this paper ‘design’ refers to the professional practice of creating new products, buildings, services and communication. Design can be understood as an emergent order that evolves as new cognitive and perceptual capacities enable a greater understanding of complexity, context and system dynamics. In turn, these emergent capacities create greater potential for social and technological innovation. This paper will argue that despite emergent skills, designers are not able to effectively address contemporary problems in regards to sustainability due to conflicts with the emergent order of the market. Critically, ‘design’ is not the same as the ‘design industry.’ The design industry operates according to highly reductive feedback generated by capitalism that systemically ignores signals from the ecological and social systems. These conflicts result in severe distortions of knowledge and reason thereby eliminating prospects for long-term prosperity.

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