Since the 1990s, in response to dramatic transformations in the worlds of technology and the economy, design - a once relatively definable discipline, complete with a set of sub-disciplines - has become unrecognizable. Consequently, design scholars have begun to address new issues, themes and sub-disciplines such as: sustainable design, design for well-being, empathic design, design activism, design anthropology, and many more.

The Routledge Companion to Design Studies charts this new expanded spectrum and embraces the wide range of scholarship relating to design - theoretical, practice-related and historical - that has emerged over the last four decades. Comprised of forty-three newly-commissioned essays, the Companion is organized into the following six sections:

  • Defining Design: Discipline, Process
  • Defining Design: Objects, Spaces
  • Designing Identities: Gender, Sexuality, Age, Nation
  • Designing Society: Empathy, Responsibility, Consumption, the Everyday
  • Design and Politics: Activism, Intervention, Regulation
  • Designing the World: Globalization, Transnationalism, Translation

Contributors include both established and emerging scholars and the essays offer an international scope, covering work emanating from, and relating to, design in the United Kingdom, mainland Europe, North America, Asia, Australasia and Africa.

This comprehensive collection makes an original and significant contribution to the field of Design Studies.

chapter |17 pages


part |80 pages

Defining Design: Discipline, Process

part |70 pages

Defining design: objects, spaces

chapter |12 pages

Keeping it on the surface

Design, surfaces and taste

chapter |11 pages

Table Stories

History, meaning and narrative in contemporary homemaking

chapter |10 pages

Wall Street(s)

chapter |13 pages

Beyond perfection

Object and process in twenty-first-century design and material culture

part |97 pages

Designing identities: gender, sexuality, age, nation

chapter |15 pages

Modern dressing

The suit as practice and symbol

chapter |11 pages

Arranging the aspidistras

Nature, culture and the design of the feminine sphere in the nineteenth century

chapter |10 pages

From Bright Young Thing to vile body to posthumous reliquary

Stephen Tennant, queer excess and the decadent interior

chapter |11 pages

Futures fairs

Industrial exhibitions in New Zealand, 1865 to 1925

chapter |12 pages

A difficult road

Designing a post-colonial car for Africa

chapter |11 pages

A match made in Utopia?

The uneasy love affair of art and industry in Scandinavia

part |93 pages

Designing society: empathy, responsibility, consumption, the everyday

chapter |13 pages

From ergonomics to empathy

Herman Miller and MetaForm

chapter |9 pages

How products satisfy needs beyond the functional

Empathy supporting consumer–product relationships

chapter |13 pages

Refashioning disability

The case of Painted Fabrics Ltd., 1915 to 1959

chapter |13 pages

Socially inclusive design

A people-centered perspective

chapter |11 pages

Design + anthropology

An emergent discipline

part |72 pages

Design and politics: activism, intervention, regulation

chapter |10 pages

Design for the Real world

Victor Papanek and the emergence of humane design

chapter |12 pages

Impossible maybe, perhaps quite likely

Activist design in Helsinki's urban wastelands

chapter |12 pages

Towards holistic sustainability design

The Rhizome Approach

chapter |12 pages

Regulating design

Spaces and boundaries of the late-nineteenth-century public house

part |98 pages

Designing the world: globalization, transnationalism, translation

chapter |12 pages

‘Why then the world's mine oyster'

Consumption and globalization, 1851 to now

chapter |13 pages

Three Dutchnesses of Dutch design

The construction of a national practice at the intersection of national and international dynamics

chapter |15 pages

Exhibiting independent India

Textiles and Ornamental Arts at the Museum of Modern Art in New York