Accepted paper:

Design thinking-apparatuses. The quality and scope of lab-solutions


Tim Seitz (Technische Universit├Ąt Berlin)

Paper short abstract:

I present ethnographic data from design thinking-workshops and explore the epistemo-political work in these settings. Following a practice-oriented approach I discuss its specific problematizations and how they align with expectations of finding practicable solutions.

Paper long abstract:

Design Thinking is a frequently used framework in lab-settings. Promising to deliver user-centered and practical solutions to complex problems, it seems like the perfect tool to enable participation while comprehending a broad range of expertise. However, empirically informed discussions on what actually happens in design thinking-settings are widely missing. Drawing on ethnographic data from a study on the topic (Seitz 2017), I will describe the material arrangements of design thinking-labs and how whiteboards, post-its, stopwatches, method-cards and human participants interact in design thinking-practices. I will formulate a neo-materialistic argument and interpret design thinking-labs as apparatuses (Barad 2007: 50ff.) that produce specific phenomena and problematizations (Foucault 2013: 255ff.), while eliminating others. With this process-oriented focus on design thinking-practices, we can better asses the scope of design-thinking solutions, the forms of participation it deploys, the forms of expertise it can include and the quality of phenomena and problematizations it produces. This allows a better understanding of lab-approaches and their epistemo-political consequences. Literature: Barad, Karen (2007): Meeting the universe halfway. Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. Durham: Duke Univ. Press. Foucault, Michel (2013): Politics, Philosophy, Culture. Interviews and Other Writings, 1977-1984. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. Seitz, Tim (2017): Design Thinking und der neue Geist des Kapitalismus. Soziologische Betrachtungen einer Innovationskultur. Bielefeld: Transcipt Verlag.

panel F09
Democracies of controlled experimentation? The emerging landscape of social laboratories