Submitted by Pei-Wei, Leah, Arjana, & Tugba
In human history, different artifacts can be found to trace the human inhabitants. Nelson & Stolterman argued that through the evidence of design, archeologists are able to distinguish human from animals and this ability to design is uniquely human. This makes the assumptions that animals are unable to design items for their own usage?
If the definition of design means the ability to imagine and make which-does-not-exist appear in concrete form as a new and purposeful addition (Nelson & Stolterman, 2014, p.12), animals also possess the ability to design. Take birds for example; nests are designed in different forms as homes for safety, rest, and raising their young. In addition, the authors also claim that the ability of design determines our humanness (Nelson & Stolterman, 2014, p.11). In our opinion, what makes humans unique from animals is the evolution of design ability. The items designed by animals are typically for survival purposes, however humans design for a variety of purposes beyond survival. In addition to purposes in designing, there are also various motivations for designing.
The purposes of human design ranges from basic survival needs to self-fulfillment. Humans use design as ways of reifying imagination and representing their existence in the world. With different levels of purposes and motivation, identity is formed through the practice of design. By imaging a new purpose to the real world, designers are able to project their identities to their creations. Even though their purposes differ greatly, the similarity is that their identities are established through a picture of the world into which the self can be projected (Wenger, 2000, p. 195). The graphs, tools and artifacts designed are not only given meaning but also in relationship to their users. However the meaning given by designers may differ than meaning produced by users. People have the free will to negotiate and utilize objects in ways that are valuable to them.
Design is a capacity not only for solving problems but also for making a change. McLuhan & Fiore argues that survival is not possible if one approaches his environment with a fixed, unchangeable point of view (2001, p.10). Therefore, change is necessary and vital to our daily lives. By embracing the culture of design, we are able to integrate thinking and doing that make change possible and feasible. Otherwise, either thinking without doing or doing without thinking can’t prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s citizens. The traditional way of learning by only providing information to students won’t be able to meet the need of the continuously changing job market. The new environment requires knowledge, critical thinking and participation. Only by adopting to the design culture, will we have the opportunity to create change.
If design is the only way to bring change, learning is a unique element to design. Likewise, design has its own approach to learning and inquiry. In order to produce effective design, knowledge, skills, competence, and participation of designers can’t be neglected. The best way to possess these abilities is through learning. As a result, design and learning are indispensable and complementary. It is important to realize that design is a process of learning and learning is the necessary condition of design.