Design Anthropology

Edited by Yana Milev

Peter Lang


Design today is not restricted to product or graphic design, but also comprises social processes as design processes. Crowd-based streams of communication and formations of signs disrupt and subvert established orders of images, data and acts. Nowadays we can identify a “Social Sculpture” as a permanent condition of self-design created by actor-networks and cultural fabrics, and at the same time as an emerging potential for design cultures.


Design Anthropology is transdisciplinary and focuses on complex “Gestalt” dynamics in social fields, which create themselves from the “bottom up”.


Supported by anthropologists, sociologists, linguists, semiologists and cultural theorists, by design critics, activists and artists, Design Anthropology establishes an expanded concept of design in the realms of the comparative cultural and social sciences. The result is a design research based on the archaeology of knowledge, anthropotechnologies of survival and on the principles of oikonomia and cooperation. Shaped into a project architecture of 5 books, 11 clusters, 31 visual essays and 64 text contributions, the publication project delineates a design discourse countering the monopolization of design-theoretical discourse by the design sciences.


Through her project, Design Anthropology, Yana Milev has formulated the theoretical basis for an expanded notion of culture and of the arts as “living archaeology”—a notion she has been arguing for since the 1980s, rendering it as “Anthro Design”.