(Publication) Design, meaning making and constructive fixation : Conceptualizing semiotic conditions to the process of designing.

Jutant, Camille, Gentes, Annie, Béjean, Mathias, & Mivielle, Cédric. (2013). Design, meaning making and constructive fixation : Conceptualizing semiotic conditions to the process of designing (p. 3509‑3519). Presented at IASDR, Tokyo, Japon.
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Abstract

Current debates in design question the effects of “fixation.” On the one hand, to be creative, designers should avoid fixing the meaning of objects or proposals, On the other hand, positive effects of fixation have also been observed in various design practices. For instance, “early
fixation” or “early crystallization” have been conceptualized as ways that significantly help starting the design work without limiting its creative potential. To understand these contrasting positions, we take a semiotic perspective on the phenomenon of fixation. Peirce’s triadic model of sign (representamen, object, interpretant), defines meaning making as an infinite process through the “interpretant” based on personal and social experience. Fixation is therefore a basic semiotic condition through which human beings make sense of the world. As pointed by Peirce, the “final” interpretant is the way by which we can actually communicate meaning to further expand it. Following on this model and the Peircean categories (firstness, secondness, thirdness) we identify three different ways in design that structure how meaning making can be stabilized, e.g.: the feeling of some potential (firstness); the combination of events or things (secondness); the establishment of a belief, habit or law (thirdness).

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