The History of Design Anthropology

Matt Artz
Matt Artz
Mar 6, 2018 · 3 min read
History of Design Anthropology
History of Design Anthropology

Design anthropology is a form of applied anthropology that makes use of ethnographic methods. It is reflective, yet given its design-orientation, also deliberately and openly prescriptive. Moreover, design anthropology is adept at solving modern complex problems given its ability to understand the problem by conducting applied research which is framed out through the theory and scholarship of cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and archaeology (Wasson, 2016).

Early Design Anthropology

Design Anthropology Matures

Design Anthropology Today

Learn More About Design Anthropology


Kjærsgaard, M. (2011). Between the actual and the potential: the challenges of design anthropology (Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Culture and Society, Section for 42 Anthropology and Ethnography, University of Aarhus).

Norman, D. (1988). The Psychology of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books.

Rick E., R. (1993). What to do with a Human Factor: A Manifesto of Sorts. American Center for Design Journal, 7, 63–73.

Wasson, C. (2000). Ethnography in the Field of Design. Human Organization, 59(4), 377–388.

Wasson, C. (2016). Design Anthropology. General Anthropology, 23(2), 1–11.

Wasson, C., & Metcalf, C. (2013). Bridging Disciplines and Sectors: An Industry-Academic Partnership in Design Anthropology. In W. Gunn, T. Otto, & R. Charlotte Smith, Design Anthropology: Theory and Practice. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

About the Author

Originally published at Matt Artz.

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