Unfolding the studio: a design anthropology of material emergence

Michael Anusas

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


This paper explores how forms of material culture arise from the design studio - a situational context informed by an art school pedagogy and sense of space. The paper draws on participant observation of product design practice in education and commerce and anthropological theory and technique. Of particular concern is how studios disrupt conventional notions of design as a step-by-step linear process focused on assemblage and the formation of material culture as object. Rather, the space of the studio and the activity of skilled practitioners therein, tends to reveal design as a non-linear practice where conventional chronologies of process become challenged. Further, techniques of unmaking and disassemblage appear as critically important. Such techniques unearth material complexities, provoke social dialogue and stimulate a type of development that evokes its 17th century French origin développer meaning to ‘unfold’ or ‘unfurl’. In this disruptive space, where material things are continually disentangled and re-entangled and practitioners work with fluidic and energetic materials, as much as with solid substances, the notion of design as focused towards the production of fixed and closed objects becomes significantly unsettled.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2015
EventMaterial Culture in Action: Practices of making, collecting and re-enacting art and design - The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 7 Sept 20158 Sept 2015


ConferenceMaterial Culture in Action: Practices of making, collecting and re-enacting art and design
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • design
  • anthropology
  • studio
  • making


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