Arational Design

  • Thomas Wendt
Part of the Design Research Foundations book series (DERF)


Too often, designers rely on rationalist notions of their work: from planning to execution, from theory to practice, from strategy to execution, from problems to solutions, from thinking to making, etc. While these sharp distinctions can serve to hyper-focus individual designers on their unique role and responsibilities, the confusion they create outweighs any potential benefits. Rigid distinctions between modes of practice often create confusion and illusions of certainty, especially when two poles come together, even rely on and co-construct one another. Much of the rationalist sentiment in contemporary design stems from a bias in Western philosophy that introduces a hierarchical relationship between mind and body – the mind dictates and the body executes. But there is no designer equivalent to cogito ergo sum – no positivist statement we can make to delineate and prioritize mental functions over bodily engagement. As an alternative to these dualisms, this paper will take a phenomenological and arational perspective on the components of design, with the end goal of articulating an arational understanding of design. It will examine the emergence of design from a rationalist epistemology and contemporary practices that are attempting to break the boundaries of reason-based methods.


Design philosophy Design practice Rationality Critical design 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Surrounding Signifiers, Design Research and StrategyNew YorkUSA

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