The politics of metadesign

Nold, Christian (2022). The politics of metadesign. In: DRS2022: Research Papers, Design Research Society, Bilbao, Spain.



This is a conceptual paper that explores the notion of metadesign which is premised on redesigning design itself. It interrogates the claim that metadesign is ‘open’, ‘fluid’ and ‘democratising’ by analysing its literature and practices. The paper makes two arguments. First, that metadesign is a theoretical power grab that prioritises language at the expense of material design which separates it from other design approaches. Second, that metadesign currently does not offer conceptual tools for observing and analysing the politics of real-world metadesign. If metadesign wants to be a democratising force, then it needs to question its legacy of transcendent language and engage with metadesign in practice and the politics it enacts in the world. Metadesign must shift towards ‘practice-based metadesign’ and work with concepts from Science and Technology Studies such as ‘infrastructural inversion’ to observe the politics of infrastructure and destabilise assumptions about discourse as immaterial and structures as material.

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