'Where does the new come from?' An ethnography of design performances of 'the new'

  • Andrea Gaspar

Student thesis: Phd


The core concern of my thesis is with shifting the focus from the description on how innovation is done (predominantly STS accounts of innovation in-the-making) to what designers do with conceptions of innovation. The thesis is based on ethnographic fieldwork within a group of interaction designers of Milan. Despite the different conceptions and traditions of innovation that these designers bring in - the artistic and technological ones - I observed that a design-centered conception of innovation is reproduced, as well as the idea that plans and intentions precede things. However, another key idea of my fieldwork is the importance designers give to imagining things as they might be, rather than focusing on how things are. This is where different models of action, planned and open ones coexist in creative ways: it is these processes that the ethnography details.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPenelope Harvey (Supervisor) & Andrew Irving (Supervisor)


  • technology
  • fiction
  • post-Fordism
  • dramatization
  • play
  • Milan
  • creative work
  • STS
  • ANT
  • flexibility
  • capitalism
  • authorship
  • collaborations between design and ethnography
  • arts
  • Italy
  • art and design pedagogy
  • theories of practice
  • conceptuality
  • materiality
  • ethnography
  • design
  • interaction design
  • innovation
  • production of the 'new'
  • anthropology
  • relationality
  • performativity
  • models of action
  • learning by doing
  • creative processes
  • phenomenology
  • creativity

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