The paper is a meta-discursive contribution to the discussion of how design can be understood as a medium of meaning formation and questioning of meaning. Further, the paper builds on plea for the role of humanities in relation to formulate relevant questions in design through conceptualizing the nature and extension of design. Three fundamental approaches to understanding design from the perspective of the humanities will be proposed: 1) The question of agency in design, what the role and agency of design can be conceived as in human life, which can be met by the historical perspective of design history, 2) the question of context in and of design, i.e. which contexts give meaning to design; this question calls for interpretive models of cultural analysis of the circuit of design in acknowledging phases and aspects of production, mediation and consumption, and 3) the question of the meaning constituents in design where the paper points to design philosophy as a framework for interests in aesthetic, ontological and phenomenological concerns in design. In the methodology of the paper, the approaches from the humanities offer frameworks for understanding the role and nature of design in terms of meaning formulation and cultural contexts and, by this, contest design. In reflecting the foundational ground of design in terms of its agency, contexts and meaning constituents, design and its questioning of meaning can be critically reframed.
Proceedings of Drs 2014: Design’s Big Debates: Design Research Society Biennial International Conference, 16-19 June 2014, Umeå, Sweden, 2014, p. 991-1002