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Disputing Ergonomics, Deconstructing Users. A Queer Perspective on Design.

Abstract : In the middle of the XXth century, ergonomics met design in the works of Ernst Neufert and Henry Dreyfuss. Although ‘user-centered design’ is usually attributed to Donald Norman and his book User Centered System Design (1986), ‘human-centered’ design principles can be traced back at least to the beginning of the XXth century, if not to the Vitruvius anthropomorphic ideal. Various systems of measurements based on the human figure have been proposed in the past as argumentative supports or as figures of thought (Zöllner, 2014). Rationalized models such as Taylor’s (Scientific Management), the Gilbreths’s (time and motion studies), Neufert’s and Dreyfuss’s (thorough rationalization of the human measures) abstill organize our spatial, motor, cognitive, interactions with artifacts and spaces. Now, we relate this modernist enterprise of human normalization and industrial standardization to what (Butler, 1990) described as essentialization or normalization, as artifacts embedding such abstracting and normalizing sets of standardized specifications tend to essentialize what a body is, regarding its gender, age and ability. We argue that these standardization models and their productions - which have not only predefined human physical behaviors towards industrialized artifacts but also quantified, differentiated and set the “normal” bodily pre-requisites to engage in these behaviors - might now be challenged by what we identify as ‘queer design’. To make our point, we retain the work of two French designers (Thomas Carpentier, architect, and Hélène Mourrier, graphic designer) not only for their ability to undermine if not deconstruct such models that could be called ‘straight’ following (Wittig 1992), but also because they exemplify two distinct methodologies of problematization and production: exploring queer ways of designing and investigating ways of designing (with) queer studies.
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Submitted on : Sunday, January 24, 2016 - 7:16:25 PM
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  • HAL Id : hal-01246059, version 1



Emeline Brulé, Tiphaine Kazi-Tani. Disputing Ergonomics, Deconstructing Users. A Queer Perspective on Design.. Design History Society, 2015, San Francisco, United States. ⟨hal-01246059⟩



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