Mediating bodies: universal design methodology and post-phenomenology

On June 16th, Rob Imrie and Kim Kullman attended the Universal Design Conference 2014 in Lund, Sweden and presented a methodological argument about the challenges that universal designers face as they engage with bodily difference and diversity. Adopting a post-phenomenological perspective, the paper indicates that Universal Design practices could benefit from a critical dialogue around the assumptions and ideas about embodiment and the world that design methods and tools advance as they are employed to make sense of everyday experience. Without such a dialogue, there is a risk that the widely different ways in which bodies, objects and spaces interact can remain unaccounted for and thereby limit what may be designed. We argue that post-phenomenology, through its detailed understanding of the socio-technical mediations of experience, can inspire universal designers to develop a range of critical and creative ways of using and sharing embodied knowledge.