Ethnography through design

We are sharing a paper originally co-authored by Lysianne Léchot-Hirt and Nicolas Nova for the scientific periodical Techniques & Culture. The paper describes how the “creation-research” approach used by designers constitutes a unique form of technography, which may prove fruitful in the field of anthropology.

On the basis of a series of recent projects in digital design, we show how, following literature, cinema and photography, the modes of applied research at the heart of design research can renew the field of ethnographic inquiry. This could enable us to “change the narrative” around socio-technical phenomena, including the socio-spatial implications of the digital, movements executed with digital objects, and even the presence of the digital’s discreet or invisible infrastructures. Without claiming that these designers consider themselves to be ethnographers, we can observe that their productions have similar goals: to describe technical systems, understand operational chains and apprehend the specific gestures and languages that go hand-in-hand with the use of technical objects.

Poster summarizing the typology of gestures produced during the Curious Rituals project. Nova et al., 2012.


Read full article:
Ethnographier avec le design


Cover credit: Julian Bleecker handling his “Apparatus for Capturing Other Points of View”. Julian Bleecker, 2009.