Culture and Relationality: Moving towards ‘post-rational’ modes of design

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBNpeer-review


This paper argues that practices of design, both in education and in professional
practice, are becoming increasingly conservative and risk averse. They are perpetuating 'normative' and 'affirmative' practices that prioritise functionality and economic viability over higher values of 'responsibility', 'ethical practice', and the broader concepts of 'prosperity'. The paper proposes ‘post-rational modes of design’ as a purposeful realignment of design research practices towards more complex and contestational expressions of possibility as a counterpoint to normative practices of a given design situation. Design is never neutral (Papanek, 1974). Instead, it is a social, cultural, and material force (Adams, Keshavarz, & Traganou 2019) that embodies entangled assemblages of ideas, customs and social behaviour. Design is fundamental to culture(s), politics and the socio-material practices of everyday life. A two-minute film accompanies this paper as a co-expression of the described concept. The film was a way of developing, illustrating and articulating this argument through design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign Culture(s). Cumulus Conference Proceedings Roma 2021
EditorsLoredana Di Lucchio, Lorenza Imbesi, Angela Giambattista, Viktor Malakuczi
Place of PublicationSapienza University of Rome, Italy
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2021

Publication series

NameCumulus Conference Proceedings Series
ISSN (Print)2490-046X


  • relationality
  • socio-material
  • socio-materiality
  • design research
  • practice
  • design practice
  • practice based research
  • post-rational
  • post-rational modes
  • Systemic Design
  • systemic
  • design cultures
  • design culture


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