Images 1.3



Journey 1.3
~ On Performativity and Design

MSc. Design Reserach program conducted by Anhalt University of Applied Sciences and Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in cooperation with Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.  

by Aída Herrera Peña

This Master Thesis is based on the author’s body knowledge, concerns, curiosities, and experiences. She consider it to be an experiential research that entails a dynamic and unfinished process but which reveals what was possible during the four-month period of its development.

Exploring how performativity contributes and enhances design research practices, this research outlines through a historical overview the transition of design domains from technological to social innovation, emphasizing changes in design ways of doing and knowing. Its framework delves first into a shift of perspective manifested in Western design cultures during the 1960s and 1970s, and follows a dialog between epistemologies of the North and current epistemologies of the South (Colombia) with the purpose of unveiling three major ideas. Initially as a way of reflecting on the socio-environmental consequences revealed from such historical context, then, as the basis for Western design cultures to acknowledge the diversity of contexts in which design practice takes place, and finally to postulate the making of a plural world beyond the dominant modern and capitalist way of life and dualistic way of knowing.

Having explored the above, and as a proposal for non-dualist and non-traditional design practices, which focus on contextual and experiential knowledge, this research continues its journey to ground performativity within design practices through a theoretical analysis of performative and design ways-of-doing and knowing. It includes a deep exploration at a social level of the terms ‘performance’, ‘performative’, and ‘performativity’; which are intrinsically related to the concept of ‘tacit knowledge’. With all the previous in mind, the author provide a discussion and conclusion that seeks to: open up possibilities for designers to delve into social realities [activity] in a non-dualistic way, recognize social concerns at local and global levels, and finally, embody an event, an action, or a behavior through body language and embodied knowledge.

Keywords: Performance, performative, performativity, tacit knowledge, body language, context, Global South, design research, industrial design, social innovation, design