Ingrid Johanna Fløgstad: Design, Antropology and Aesthetics from Norway

Your application for a position with Reframing Studio came with a CV featuring not one, not even two but three BA studies; Anthropology, Aesthetics and Industrial Design… Are you a wondering soul, roaming the face of the earth in search of your place under the stars?

As we say in Norway Tvert imot! Meaning: Au contraire! This was my plan from the beginning: I wanted to be in a position to create, but to create based on research. Not necessarily as a designer, but in any area that involves people. So it could also have been architecture or urban design. Initially my plan was to study just one year of Anthropology, but then I got introduced to amazing new subjects, and also into the field of Aesthetics, and before I knew it I had written two BA-theses...

Recently I became aware that the combination of Anthropology and Design is something of an upcoming trend these days. Some universities even offer combined courses Design Anthropology. I applaud that because for me they are very similar, both are about people. Anthropology is a real enrichment to Design. Anthropologists are good in collecting data, especially on stuff that is taken for granted; they bring in specialized routines to see the everyday things around us, things that may be easily missed.

 So are you an anthropologic designer or a design anthropologist?

I am a designer. Both have to begin with immersion in real life situations, but I believe that as a designer you are more likely to realize change working with anthropological knowledge. I like to do research, but I am not build for an academic life behind a desk in an office. 

What sort of tools and methods have you learned in anthropology?

I have learned to be open, like a child and rethink everything that happens. I learned to see with new eyes. And of course methods like contextual analyzing, participant observation and various techniques in asking open questions, also about obvious things.

What should we print on your Business Card?

My diploma will say Industrial Designer but for me that is an outdated term. It suggests production, and matter. I will be working on services, on systems and on a conceptual level. But I have some time to consider this question!

How do you fit in with the professional army: Do you feel like a revolutionary or are you a warrior?

Hmm, certainly not a revolutionary. But I am something of a rebel. Although professionally I have-not done very much rebellious yet…

How do you want to influence behavior? Are you going to punishing users?

Not like in restricting people, I want direct towards behavioral change. I want to influence real people through the stuff they use in their daily lives. The contextual level is important but not always addressed. This was a big motivation to come to Reframing Studio and practice to take meaning and context into consideration and aim at something that is relevant in the future. 

Who are your heroes?

I am a big fan of Norwegian comedian Sigrid Bonde Tusvik. There are so many rigid structures in our society. To innovate you have to be aware of the rules that exist because of these structures. Usually these rules are restrictive but not for all of us but only for certain groups. Especially woman got a bum deal: We live in a gender biased world were women (in many Western countries) actually have the opportunity to make all the free choices they want, however freedom is often restricted in a different way. The hidden structure of rules and expectations are narrowing the framework of which identities that are accepted and seen as successful and which parts of our personality we feel comfortable to unfold and express, both physically and emotionally. What I believe humor and design have in common, is that both are effective to negotiate unspoken rules and make people think different. Sigrid Bonde Tusvik is challenging taboos and breaking these rules by opening new debates and pushing borders. As a designer I want to see through lenses brought to me by people like that. So I have lot of ambitions but I want to make clear that I am not there yet but someday, I hope to demonstrate that design can bring more equality and democracy

What areas have you targeted for this urgent improvement?

I would like to work for the psychic and the depressed. I would like to create something that is helpful and meaningful.

That sounds like heavy stuff…wouldn’t you rather design birthday cakes and celebrate life? 

My definition of celebrating life is using our powers in improving other people’s situation. In order to do so, I think it is important to be open, maybe even vulnerable. If I am not empathic I will not be able to engage and understand my users and propose measures that make sense. What keeps me going is the improvement, that should give me the energy enabling me to go through misery as well!

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