The reason this book came into being is the notion that many designers regard their field as a pragmatic practice that primarily uses technological knowledge and rational principles. Projects are approached in the most efficient and systematic manner, with the aim of achieving exploitable products and services. To guarantee a successful introduction, intended users are involved intensively in the design process. Fortunately, preconditions such as ethics and sustainability are being taken increasingly into account, but strangely enough it is our own culture that makes us blind to the meaning and importance of culture in that process.
The Dutch sociologist Joop Goudsblom defined culture as ‘everything that should be learned’. He was terrified of the idea of having to go through life as a second-rate nihilist, and therefore focused on what we now refer to in a somewhat cowardly fashion as ‘sense-giving’. Culture, he believed, invariably contains an aspect of civilisation and, all things considered, human beings have a duty to learn what leads to civilisation.
Two activities distinguish humans from other animals: we define our identities by way of cultural signifiers and use heat or fire to prepare our food. Making tools, trading, teaching, playing competitive games, and watching television, for example, are activities that both humans and animals have in common.

We first need to define the concept of culture as used in this book. Culture is a collective term that consists essentially of norms and guidelines applying to social behaviour, language use, and manners that comprise the organisation of a society. Mythology, philosophy, literature, and science form the intangible, cultural heritage of a society. Material culture includes technology, architecture, and art. Design practice focuses mainly on this material culture, but no design can be viewed in isolation from the entire cultural context.
The term culture was introduced in 45 bc by the ancient Roman orator Cicero, who in his book ‘Tusculanae Disputationes’ described the development of the human soul as ‘cultura animi’, using a metaphor related to cultivating crops for the development of this supreme philosophical ideal. The difference between that and the contemporary definition is that human perfection is now sought outside of philosophy ‘by all means by which man manages to escape his original barbarism through artifice.’ This definition positions our culture as an antitype to our nature, and with this positioning we automatically end up in the domain of the designed world of our human existence.
This book is a possible response to the need to understand these cultural processes in the context of design. It provides a lens through which to look at culture (Section 1); a design-related language in which to talk about culture (Section 2); models and methods by which to understand culture (Section 3);
and examples that demonstrate the impact of design (Section 4) on culture. Along with the main text, the book is richly illustrated with images and examples, supplementary to the main text and aimed at stimulating reflection and self-study.

Engels Paperback 9789063695613 Druk: 1 juni 2020 160 pagina's