My academic research covers a wide variety of subjects, all concerned in one way or another with the relationship between society and technology. The relationship between people and technological artefacts is explored through my writing on the design history of computers. The impact of the society-technology relationship on the design profession is explored through my writing on professional vs amateur design, including work on the history of DIY. The future impact of emerging technologies on the nature of design is explored through the practice-based research into Post Industrial Manufacturing. Descriptions of each of these areas are listed here, while details of the actual work produced, with access to articles, papers and exhibition details are available through the links to the relevant categories on the right.

The Design History of Computers


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I have an ongoing interest in the design history of personal computing and our relationship with computing technology. I am not so concerned with the actual technology of computing, but more about the changing physical design of computers over time, and how this relates to the way we perceive and relate to computers as social and cultural artefacts.

The computer that most people relate to – the typical office computer or PC – is so pervasive in our everyday lives that we barely give it a second thought. Yet, as this artefact has changed from a room-sized behemoth to a desktop companion, it has been instrumental in changing the way we work and live our everyday lives.
As computers have now become commonplace in the home, and become more portable and even hand-sized, the relationship we have with computing technology continues to develop. My articles on the history of computing are an attempt to trace this relationship. You can read abstracts of the articles and find links to download them by clicking the ‘Design History of Computers’ category on the right.

Professional vs. Amateur Design


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As a departure from the study of the history of computing, I am interested in the tensions between ‘Design’ as a profession – a specialised area of expert activity for industrial manufacture, and ‘design’ as carried out on a daily basis by a huge number of people across the world in designing and making things for themselves. Where exactly are the boundaries between the two, and what happens at those boundaries? In trying to frame these questions in order to explore them, I have edited various publications and written various conference papers, and curated public exhibitions, covering subjects from the history of the Do It Yourself movement, to the role of the professional designer. For details click on the ‘Professional vs Amateur Design’ category link on the right.

Post Industrial Manufacturing


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Imagine a world where you can not only choose completely unique artefacts, but design the objects exactly as you want them to be before having them made specifically for you at the push of a button.

This is happening now. It is only a matter of time before this scenario is the normal state of affairs.

For a number of years now, I have been considering the impact of new and emerging technologies in computer aided design and direct digital manufacture, particularly generative software and various rapid prototyping technologies. The implications are incredible. Post Industrial Manufacturing techniques will change the very nature of design, and the relationship of consumers to design.

The pages in this section describe different research projects which have produced academic research papers and public exhibitions of radical design work. Click on ‘Post Industrial Manufacturing’ under ‘Categories’.

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