Thought essentially as configuration or as disposition, though in ways that will have to be explored, design is difficult conceptually. As Phillipe Jullien has pointed out with respect to how we understand some similar concepts in Chinese, the term lies stranded between the over-powering distinction between things (“their condition, configuration, and structure”) and forces or effects (the processes that give to things their form and therefore also their efficacy, their implications). The dichotomy in question is, like all dichotomies, abstract and inadequate to understanding. Nonetheless, it operates to ensure that, caught between the realms of forces and consequences on the one side, and that of the facticity of objects on the other, design is consigned to inconsistency. Its location uncertain, it thus remains largely unconceptualized—even though we sense that what is at stake here is everything that really matter (particularly, it must said, in reference to the realm of the artificial, which is of course the realm of design).
Source: Doctoral Education in Design Conference (1998), pp. 1-41
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