Home > Design, Ideas > Practice Oriented Product Design

Practice Oriented Product Design

John Marshall of designed objects has recently posted on the meaning of design – an ongoing ontological quandary for many a responsible designer. There is a dependant and reciprocal relation between design, product, markets and consumerism and John questions and rationalises the why and how to continue to create in an environment that has almost everything we could possibly need or want. He places the role and function of designer in society in a challenging and thoughtful manifesto on POPD – Practice Oriented Product Design pushing the boundaries of UCD – User-Centred Design systems.

He states that

POPD matters for designers who want to change the world and for those who want to sell more stuff.


focuses on the routinised ways of doing, understanding, knowing, and desiring which comprise human experience and social structure…..[but] It is in the performance of practices that users and products come together, in complexes of skills, meanings, materialities and temporalities. POPD has a more radical understanding of how practices structure society.

It understands that

no object is an island so it attends to the relations between products, not to objects in isolation.

POPD understands that history matters! Understanding the dynamics of practice means understanding continuities and patterns of co-evolution over time: look backwards to see forwards.

Most of all it recognises that needs are made and not intrinsic and are emergent as the dynamic of practice and that products, designers and consumers are all agents of change and cannot change independently.

What this would mean for design processes of course would be for a more responsible approach in the collation of knowledge material by way of data and field observation however John’s proposal requires academic rigour and depth – something beyond the field observations of the trend spotter. This would become a science in itself and may become a branch of study to emerge in the future.

Categories: Design, Ideas
  1. August 2, 2006 at 5:10 am

    I just wanted to point out that POPD is not my proposal but the work of a network of scholars and this document was the focus of a workshop I attended. More available here: http://www.dur.ac.uk/designing.consuming/index.html

  2. August 2, 2006 at 8:10 am

    Thank you John.

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