In search of the roots of
Scandinavian user-centered design

Maria Göransdotter

Where does Scandinavian user-centered design come from? (PhD Project)

The theme for my ongoing dissertation work is to trace the early roots of Scandinavian user-centered design, through an idea-focused analysis of 20th century texts that have been influential in shaping the Swedish practices and discourse on the design and the use of everyday things.

The early 20th century ideas and practices that were influential in forming the Swedish design discourse came to be highly present not only in the industrial design profession, as it emerged in Sweden, but also in state policy and goverment intitiatives aiming to reform everytday life in different ways. There was a societal consensus that things, homes and everyday practices were crucial elements in building a modern society with thoroughly modern citizens. In early Swedish design discourse, there were strong connections between aesthetics and ethics: 'Good taste' and 'good design' were perceived as important to understand, and to practice, both in everyday life and in state policies. The attempt of my dissertation is to investigate ideas and methods that today are an integral part of a 'Scandinavian user centered design', and discuss how these still carry with them norms, values and practices linked to the specific historical contexts that these once emerged in. 

My supervisors are Johan Redström, UID, and Kjetil Fallan, University of Oslo.

Areas of interest

Design history, design theory, material and visual culture studies, semiotics.


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