3 December 2015

[Book] Swedish design, an ethnography

Be the first to share
Media
Business
Services
Social Issues

Swedish Design, An Ethnography
By Keith M. Murphy
Cornell University Press
April 2015, 264 pages

Swedish designers are noted for producing distinctive and elegant forms; their furniture and household goods have an especially loyal following around the world. Design in Sweden has more than just an aesthetic component, however. Since at least the late nineteenth century, Swedish politicians and social planners have viewed design as a means for advocating and enacting social change and pushing for a more egalitarian social organization. In this book, Keith M. Murphy examines the special relationship between politics and design in Sweden, revealing in particular the cultural meanings this relationship holds for Swedish society.

Over the course of fourteen months of research in Stockholm and at other sites, Murphy conducted in-depth interviews with various players involved in the Swedish design industry—designers, design instructors, government officials, artists, and curators—and observed several different design collectives in action. He found that, for Swedes, design is never socially or politically neutral. Even for common objects like furniture and other household goods, design can be labeled “responsible,” “democratic,” or “ethical”— descriptors that all neatly resonate with the traditional moral tones of Swedish social democracy. Murphy also considers the example of Ikea and its power to politicize perceptions of the everyday world.

More broadly, Swedish Design serves as a model for an anthropological approach to the study of design practice, one that accounts for the various ways in which order is purposefully and meaningfully imposed by designers on the domains of human life, and the consequences those impositions have on the social worlds in which they are embedded.

Keith M. Murphy is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine.

> Conversation with Keith M. Murphy: Part 1Part 2

Be the first to share
3 October 2019
The Design Council’s evolved Double Diamond
At the heart of the Design Council's framework for innovation, which helps designers and non-designers across the globe tackle some of the most complex social, economic and environmental problems, is its design methodology, the Double …
28 September 2019
[Book] Too Smart
Too Smart: How Digital Capitalism is Extracting Data, Controlling Our Lives, and Taking Over the World By Jathan Sadowski The MIT Press March 2020, 240 pages Who benefits from smart technology? Whose interests are served when we trade our …
27 August 2019
The anthropologist of Artificial Intelligence
The algorithms that underlie much of the modern world have grown so complex that we always can’t predict what they’ll do. Iyad Rahwan, who directs the Center for Humans and Machines at the Max Planck …
24 August 2019
[Book] The Costs of Connection
The Costs of Connection: How Data Is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating It for Capitalism by Nick Couldry and Ulises A. Mejias Stanford University Press August 2019, 352 pages Just about any social need is now met with an …
24 August 2019
[Book] Behavioural macroeconomics
Behavioural Macroeconomics: Theory and Policy Paul De Grauwe and Yuemei Ji Oxford University Press October 2019, 256 pages Modern macroeconomics has been based on the paradigm of the rational individual capable of understanding the complexity of the world. This …
5 April 2019
The story of Spotify personas
Spotify's product designer Mady Torres de Souza and senior user researchers Olga Hörding and Sohit Karol explain how they developed their personas tool, how they use it today and why it’s so useful for an …
4 April 2019
When ethnography becomes a joke
For a number of years, we have witnessed a diminishing appetite for ethnographic work among commercial clients, writes Patricia Sunderland, PhD and founder of Cultural Research and Analysis, on the site of the Qualitative Research …
4 April 2019
Old, online, and fed on lies: How an aging population will reshape the internet
Although many older Americans have, like the rest of us, embraced the tools and playthings of the technology industry, a growing body of research shows they have disproportionately fallen prey to the dangers of internet …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

5 July 2019
Experientia on addressing vaccine hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy is a top10 global health threat. Dealing with it successfully requires understanding it as a behaviour and generating a holistic view of people’s perspectives & ecosystems. This way we can identify the best opportunities for intervention. Here is Experientia’s position on vaccine hesitancy and our tailor-made support for the vaccine industry.

2 May 2019
MacArthur Foundation’s “100&Change” competition now calling for applications

100&Change is a MacArthur Foundation competition for a $100 million grant to fund a single proposal that will make measurable progress toward solving a significant problem. 100&Change will select a bold proposal that promises real progress toward solving a critical problem of our time. And it will award a $100 million grant to help make […]

19 March 2019
Interested in a career with us?

Then we are interested in hearing from you. We have several positions available for talented UX/UI and service designers who are passionate about creating world-class user experiences. Please see the job descriptions on our website for more information, and send us your CV with a cover letter statement about yourself, your experience, and what UX […]

22 December 2018
Our very best wishes for 2019! / Auguri da Experientia!
4 October 2018
Bringing​ ​patients into focus at the Roche Innovation Summit

Experientia is proud to have been a key participant at the Roche Innovation Summit, held at Roche headquarters in Basel Switzerland on 19 June 2018. Themed “​Transforming the Healthcare Experience Together​”, the summit aimed to galvanize the Roche community around the future transformation of healthcare and diagnostics. With 800 attendees from Roche and Genentech global […]

13 June 2018
Invito: DesAlps design thinking workshop per la tua startup

Hai una startup? Hai mai pensato ai benefici che potrebbe trarre dal Design Thinking? Questa è l’opportunità per scoprirlo! DesAlps Workshop #2: Il Design Thinking per la tua startup! Giovedì 28 giugno 2018 – dalle 9:30 alle 17:00 @ I3P | Corso Castelfidardo 30/a, Torino —– Nell’ambito del progetto europeo DesAlps, un team di esperti […]

See all articles