Despite the pictured car being non-functional it still has car-ness—it holds on to the essences of a car-object. How? Through access to your intentional car-object, you unconsciously attribute car-ness to suitable car-like objects. Photo credit by Vicky Sim on Unsplash

An exploration of subjective meaning given to objects’ essences within design contexts

This brief article is merely an attempt to draw on philosophic ideas of essence and apply these ideas to a designed product in-formation in the form of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) concept. I situate this hypothetical situation in a world where the ‘car’ object doesn’t yet exist, and while I will not describe what a car-MVP ought to be, I do discuss how philosophy can provide pathways on how to think of what a car-MVP could embody. The philosophical concepts of essence I draw upon originate from philosophers Graham Harman, Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, and Aristotle.

A few years…

A Speculative Design and Fiction Project

6 Speculative Design Job ads from 2050, where object-oriented philosophies have become a dominant cognitive tool for design research and practice.

In the year 2050, humanity has finally accepted and involved the rich vibrancy and agency from the entities that surround us, with their innate or intentional abilities to positively and negatively affect all the systems that surround them. There are a profusion of systems that societies rely on, that embody a confusion of social, technological, and environmental elements that depend on a delicate balance for equanimity. The boundaries of these systems have become blurred. Transhumanisation, enhancement-therapy, is a reality. AI assisted decision making is normalised in developed countries at the individual level through to all levels of government, from deciding…

The Being of a Wooden Pterodactyl Skeleton

A Philosophy of Design thought experiment

I have a 3D puzzle of a Pterodactyl skeleton sitting on my desk. A child’s wooden toy. This object will be the subject of a thought experiment, as I consider it from an Object-Oriented Ontological and Animism philosophical hybrid view, as per Lindley, Akmal & Coulton (2019). This toy has been laser-cut from managed-forestry wood. It was likely tracked by some form of A.I. during shipments, yet, despite its cutting edge technological origins it represents a non-existent prehistoric creature.

The skeletal Pterodactyl has no colour other than the plywood pine of its material. It has only a vague resemblance to…

Communicating design value and evaluation.
Assignment 3.1
— MDF Future Design Clients
Steven Santer : s3569799. June 2016.

This post considers the value of Trust and its impact on Design Provider and Client relationships. Trust is essential for successful collaborative working relationships. Trust is complex and dynamic. When considering trust as a design value there are a number of aspects that could be explored such as; the type of trust, levels of trust, formation and managing trust, reputation influence, impact of contracts on trust and deterrence-based trust, and many other facets.

What is trust?

Trust between parties has been broadly defined to have 2 main parts; a willingness to be vulnerable, and positive expectations of others [Rousseau et al.]. Being vulnerable is taking a risk of exploitation from another party. Without taking on this risk the desired outcome will never be achieved, which fulfils the second condition of trust formation; interdependence, where the needs of the trustor cannot be fulfilled without the trustee.

Rousseau et al. defined trust as: …a psychological state comprising the intention to…

RMIT MDF — Future Clients, Assignment 2
Group: Lucy, Indi, Steve

The freelance designer

Through exploring the practice of a freelance designer, this post aims to unpack just a few of the techniques used to propose, facilitate and evaluate (PFE) design practice. We’ll discuss some of the ways freelancers sense-make and the capabilities needed to do so.

Now, more than ever, designers are choosing to be self-employed. The state of how we all work in Australia is undergoing a massive change. A new survey by freelance marketplace, UpWork[1], states that a third of the Australian workforce, or 4.1 million people, undertake some sort…

What the hell does this mean? I started contemplating this question: To be a Design Generalist or Specialist?

I’ve seen this type of post surface a number of times recently in the digital agency / design industry.

I’ve been freelancing for a few years now, and with the need to take on work, or just chase something new, I’ve picked up a wide array of skills. However, I don’t really consider myself a design generalist. Though it may come across this way, I prefer to think that I have deep skills across a number of design disciplines.

However, I’m often…

RMIT MDF, Future Design Clients—Learning Activity 3

Design Synthesis is an ABDUCTIVE* sensemaking process of manipulating, organising, pruning, and filtering data in an effort to produce information and knowledge.

What’s your experience of Design Synthesis?

Design Synthesis has certainly never been a formalised process for me. While there’s been concepts of procedures, and a few methods for generating a variety of design concepts, much of the process was internalised and perhaps even habitual in the way I considered the myriad of research data, and combined it with my way of thinking to create design insights.

How can it differ from the way other professions operate?

Many professions, if not all, have some sort of synthesis process. Though not anything like what Kolko discusses which is unique to the design profession. Plumbers, financiers, doctors, detectives, all need to…

Not always what it seems. The Contemporary Designer needs to dig deeper than the brief.

RMIT MDF — Future Design Clients, Assessment 1

This is a brief compare and contrast post. Comparing my current Design Services, with another type of Professional Service.

I’m going to consider a slightly different interpretation of ‘professional’. Like the 1981 French movie ‘Le Professionnel’[1]. Which is about a French Secret Service Agent. Thinking along these lines I decided to compare and contrast my design practice with the only professional assassin I know anything about; Ian Fleming’s James Bond aka 007[2].

Despite the seemingly far fetched premise of comparing a designer with 007, there are a surprising number of similarities with…

MDF — Future Design Clients, Activity 2
Steven Santer

This short write up on how 3 professions add value to their clients, is based solely on personal experience and not on any research beyond these interactions. It’s also based on a mere handful of professionals that I have interacted with, or observed, over the years. What is interesting is considering how they offer value and comparing them to a design practice.

These notes are written from my point of view.

A relationship flow between Vendor and Real-estate Agent

Real Estate Agents

(From a Vendor’s point of view) Real Estate agents, the good ones anyway, seem to understand they’re in this for…


View the full size (and legible) journey map here

This Service Design Journey Mapping exercise presents my learning pathway and experience of the Service Design module for the Masters of Design Futures I’m currently undertaking at RMIT.

The journey map shows 10 columns representing the 10 weeks of the service design course. The map divides these 10 columns up into emotional reflection, challenges faced, actions undertaken, and an expanded information row describing key elements for that week. The journey map is based on a preliminary write up which covers 4 stages of reflection:

  1. Reporting + Responding: Report what happened or…

Steve Santer

Exploring through the process of writing, philosophy, speculative fiction & design futures domains and themes.

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