The accidental move: Accident and authority in design discourse

Fiona McLachlan*, Richard Coyne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

If we take the cognitive science account of design as a process of search then accidental events can provide opportunities to enter new spaces, change direction, and short-circuit detailed investigation. We compare the search account with poststructuralist accounts of the accidental move, which we argue have greater currency in certain schools of thinking about design. Rather than search, poststructuralism constructs its discussions around the problematics of repetition, origins and intentionality. In turn we contrast the poststructuralist account with the hermeneutics of Gadamer, which directs attention to the issue of authority in design, at least on the matter of the accidental move. The discussion of authority serves to debunk the sense of mystery associated with design when appeal is made to accident.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-99
Number of pages13
JournalDesign Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Creative design
  • Design theory
  • Hermeneutics
  • Poststructuralism


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