Re-engaging with Design History through the Practical Turn

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This paper reflects on the interpretation of design histories for use in contemporary design practice. After the introduction and advocacy of STS approaches in design history by Fallan in 2010, I started to become interested in using these approaches for understanding contemporary design challenges. This interest resulted in the development of historically informed design methods in the context of the Practical Turn.
The Practical Turn is a term that is coined by Eggink and Dorrestijn for the collaboration between Philosophy of Technology and Design Research. Some results of this collaboration are Utopian Technology, the Product Impact Tool, and Open Script Design.
I will explain the use of Utopian Technology for designing responsibly, based on the experiences with a one-week Industrial Design Workshop at the University of Antwerp. Here, 18 students executed a conceptual design project for the improvement of public space. During the process they applied the idea of Utopian Technology in both the analysis and synthesis of their designs.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages275
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventDesign History Society Annual Conference 2021: Memory Full? Reimagining the relations between Design and History - FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel, Switzerland
Duration: 2 Sept 20214 Sept 2021


ConferenceDesign History Society Annual Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleDHS 2021
Internet address


  • Design history
  • Practical turn
  • Philosophy of technology
  • Responsible design
  • Utopian design
  • Utopian technology
  • Ethical reflection


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