key words :

design
visual design
hermeneutics
embodiment
feminism
design practice
performance
dialogue

 

Disrupting the Designer: Applying a feminist, embodied hermeneutic framework towards better understanding and disrupting visual design practice

This Master of Design thesis project takes an experimental approach to exploring hermeneutic phenomenology—a practical philosophy that looks at understanding lived human experience through interpretative back-and-forth dialogue and storytelling—combined with a feminist and embodied research strategy. I am interested in the ethical, social and political ramifications of design and the question of how designers make design decisions, and how these design narratives can be disrupted if the current ramifications of design work are problematic. These questions are personalized in this thesis project, and become personally embodied as I use myself and my own design practice as a case study for this research. I see these questions as also having wider applications across the design profession: how do experiences, bias, prejudices, gender and body affect design ideas, concepts, systems and artifacts? Specifically, my overarching research question asks, how can I disrupt current narratives of women in design? Through my thesis project I engage in three types of hermeneutic dialogue: with existing texts; six industry experts, professionals and academics through semi-structured interviews; and through self-dialogue. These dialogues are used to create a series of animated and video-recorded shorts, documenting my exploration of a hermeneutical, embodied, and feminist approach to design research. These videos function as both a documentation of this iterative research and as a multimedia communication tool to show how hermeneutics, embodiment and a feminist framework can be used to inspire dialogue and challenge paradigms. By taking a look at my own experience as a designer, my aim is to question how the application of a hermeneutic, embodied and feminist approach might be applied to disrupt current narratives in design and help evolve visual design practice towards new perspectives.