Design Unfamiliarity: From the ‘Real’ Real to the ‘Unreal’ Real


This study is research through design. In the process of design practice, we tend to be attracted by the real thing, leading us to lock our eyes on the real thing and simply assume that the problem of the real thing is the problem of design. However, we overlook that there is an inauthentic problem behind the real and that this inauthentic problem actually determines the solution to the real problem and its existence or not. It is noteworthy that the neglect of the inauthentic problem precisely cuts off the construction of the future by design. Based on this problem, this study uses a retrospective experimental method and finds a cognitive barrier from “real” to “unreal” and that certain conditions must be met to span it. At the same time, after spanning the barrier, the design method used for the “unreal” content is different from the previous one. As a result, it leads to a process of design that is no longer an optimization process of finding a solution to a problem, but rather a hermeneutic process. This process completes the progression from the familiar to the unfamiliar, from the Could-be to the Should-be, and from the real to the future, and achieves the transition from the real to the unreal, which is defined in this study as the “design Unfamiliarity” process.


Xuesong Wu
Associate Professor, School of Design, Hunan University , Hunan, China

Zilong Li
Assistant Professor, Design, Kyushu University, Japan


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Designed Objects


Real; Unreal; Spanning and Hermeneutics; Future Design; Design Unfamiliarity

Digital Media


Design Unfamiliarity (pdf)