Domestication as Design Intervention

Sara Routarinne* & Johan Redström

*) University of Art and Design Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland



This paper describes a study in which design prototypes were domesticated in different households in order to collect responses provoked by them. These responses were then compared to the intentions that had been expressed by the designers in a previous study through the design of a series of design prototypes. The results indicate that some of the intentions correlate to actual responses whereas others do not. For example, the scenarios for use presented by the designers were not realized in actual use. Nevertheless, the more abstract intentions articulated for these prototypes could be said to have been realized. On the one hand, the results suggest that design prototypes act as domestication probes that provoke users and help them reflect upon their values, experiences and attitudes in a way not easily accessed by other means. On the other hand, the study illuminates the practices and procedures that people use in order to tame, i.e. make understandable, a material newcomer to a material environment. The results underline and illustrate some of these ‘folk’ methods. For example, 1) people understand a newcomer through creating links to historical and existing artefacts; 2) a newcomer may succeed because it makes sense socially, and 3) it may succeed because it finds a slot in the (eco)system of the household. On a more general level the paper discusses the ways in which domestication may be used as a design intervention.


In the proceedings of Design Inquiries, the Second Nordic Design Research Conference 2007. Web proceedings of Nordic Design Research: . ISSN: 1604-9705 [PDF]


© 2007

johan redström