The Conflict in Design (or, the Conflict of Design)

By Ryan McVeigh.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There is a sharp contrast between how our society views the process of design and the products it creates. Although both components equally represent two halves of the same whole, the act of design in its primacy has been overlooked and mistaken simply for the objects of its labour. By using a methodology founded upon the work of the German sociologist Georg Simmel, this paper seeks to rethink the concept and reality of design and make visible its mistaken identity within contemporary society. A three-part analysis will move to uncover the deeper implications of this oversight and present an alternative schema for conceptualizing the act of design. The first section unpacks the process of design and its position within the framework of other human acts. From here we move to explore the qualities contained in the products of design and make problematic the current framework with which these objects are viewed. The final section of the paper synthesizes the previous two components within a holistic framework and offers critical commentary concerning the contemporary obsession with produced goods. The insurmountable goal of this paper is to both complicate and simplify our thinking about design; it makes this attempt by pointing to the inherent conflict achieved by a process continually in motion as it confronts the constructed artifacts of its creative past.

Keywords: Design, Simmel, Conflict, Form, Act, Social

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.35-42. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 494.127KB).

Ryan McVeigh

Graduate Student, Sociology, Social Philosophy, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Ryan McVeigh is currently a graduate student in Sociology at York University in Toronto, Canada. An undergraduate degree in Urban Planning (University of Waterloo, Canada) laid the foundation for his current research in rethinking the boundaries between subject/environment, subject/object, and individual/social. It is here that the topic of design seems most prevalent. He is currently working towards the completion of a Master of Arts degree and will continue study in a doctoral program in social psychology.


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