Ethnography and design

Michael Anusas, Paul Rodgers

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The recent Cox Review highlighted the issue that many more of our product design graduates should possess experiences and skills in, or at least have empathy with, techniques and methods from other areas [1]. With this in mind, this paper presents a series of projects concerned with the role of anthropological techniques and approaches in product design and development. In particular, the anthropological method of ethnography has been used here to support the creative process in the discovery of cultural patterns and subsequently developing products to meet or address those patterns [2]. In this way, ethnography can be viewed as a front-end design research method to investigate everyday social life and culture as a tool for promoting and developing innovation and creativity. This paper presents a brief overview of how ethnography has influenced product development over the last two decades and will show some of the future opportunities where ethnography can influence the design of products and the organisation of design processes. Specifically, the paper will describe recent case studies where ethnography has been used in engineering and product design education within Napier University’s MDes Interdisciplinary Design programme and across a range of undergraduate programs within the University of Strathclyde’s DMEM department. The authors will report on the contrasting styles of both institutions and attempt to draw out best practice to show how emerging ethnographic methods can inform new perspectives in product design education.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Sept 2008
EventInternational Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education (EPDE) 2008 - Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain
Duration: 4 Sept 20085 Sept 2008


ConferenceInternational Conference on Engineering & Product Design Education (EPDE) 2008


  • design
  • ethnography
  • innovation
  • education


Dive into the research topics of 'Ethnography and design'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this