when shape does not induce function: why designers must not loose the big picture (of use) - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Conference Papers Year : 2007

when shape does not induce function: why designers must not loose the big picture (of use)

Eric Blanco


Shape does not induce function. That is what this paper first tries to demonstrate. Affordances must be perceived to link a structure to a function, to make an object look like what it is designed for. It takes palaeontologists the understanding of a hybrid socio-technical context to interpret the structure of an artefact. A brief backward look at historical simple optical systems bears it out: structure must be replaced in a larger network to understand why it is like it is, why rivet spectacles had no sidepieces. Then if function has a systemic nature, if it has never been inscribed on shape, but on the sociotechnical context of objects, it necessary has implications for design. Recommended methods as value analysis involve socio-technical networks in function identification; they follow designers in building a compulsory and forecasted set of connections to surrounding actants, embodying concepts in unspoken scripts of use. Still, what this paper illustrates is the enormous significance given to those implicit and hardly discussed representations. Mentioning the case of axiomatic design, it is shown how then functions are translated into functional requirements, distinct design parameters, and independent teams: unspoken scripts are behind product's and organisation's structures, behind 'indisputable' dominant designs. Moreover, original 'big pictures of use' fade out during the breakdown, creating numerous short-sighted (and still implicit) models of use. What this paper suggests is the need for intermediary objects (scenarios?) that could consider use representations as an influential parameter of design, and maintain throughout the design process shared, partially-explicit, and discussed visions of socio-technical contexts where artefacts are imagined


Other Sociology
Fichier principal
Vignette du fichier
veyrat_blanco_trompette_iced07-revised.pdf (214.83 Ko) Télécharger le fichier
Origin : Files produced by the author(s)

Dates and versions

hal-00184068 , version 1 (07-11-2007)


  • HAL Id : hal-00184068 , version 1


Nicolas Veyrat, Eric Blanco, Pascale Trompette. when shape does not induce function: why designers must not loose the big picture (of use). ICED'07 International Conference on Engineering Design, Aug 2007, Paris, France. ⟨hal-00184068⟩
296 View
103 Download


Gmail Facebook Twitter LinkedIn More