Designing Things

Designing Things: A Critical Introduction to the Culture of Objects

by Prasad Boradkar

Prasad Boradkar is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Industrial Design Program at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe. He is the Director of InnovationSpace, a transdisciplinary laboratory at ASU where design, business, and engineering students and faculty partner with corporations to develop human-centred product concepts that hold societal benefit and minimize impacts on the environment. Boradkar is interested in the research space that lies at the intersection of design and material culture. In his writing, he draws from a variety of disciplines to understand the social and cultural significance of the designed environment. Boradkar is the author of Designing Things: A Critical Introduction to the Culture of Objects (Berg 2010). Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2014
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-1-3500-3611-6 (online)

    978-1-8452-0426-6 (hardback)

    978-1-8452-0427-3 (paperback)
  • Edition:
    First Edition
  • Place of Publication:
  • Published Online:
Designing Things
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When and why did the turntable morph from playback device to musical instrument? Why have mobile phones evolved changeable skins? How many meanings can one attach to such mundane things as tennis balls? The answers to such questions illustrate this provocative book, which examines the cultural meanings of things and the role of designers in their design and production.

Designing Things provides the reader with a map of the rapidly changing field of design studies, a subject which now draws on a diverse range of theories and methodologies - from philosophy and visual culture, to anthropology and material culture, to media and cultural studies.

With clear explanations of key concepts - such as form language, planned obsolescence, object fetishism, product semantics, consumer value and user needs - overviews of theoretical foundations and case studies of historical and contemporary objects, Designing Things looks behind-the-scenes and beneath-the-surface at some of our most familiar and iconic objects.