A Poetics of Designing

Claudia Westermann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The chapter considers second-order cybernetics as a framework that is accurately described as a poetics. An overview is provided on what it means to be in a world that is uncertain, e.g., how under conditions of limited understanding any activity is an activity that designs and constructs, and how designing objects, spaces, and situations relates to the (designed) meta-world of second-order cybernetics. If it cannot be determined whether the world is complex or not, to assume that the world is complex is a matter of choice linked to an attitude of generosity. The chapter highlights that it is this attitude, which makes designing an ethical challenge. Designers require a framework that is open, but one that supplies ethical guidance when ‘constructing’ something new. Relating second-order design thinking to insights in philosophy and aesthetics, the chapter argues that second-order cybernetics provides a response to this ethical challenge and essentially it entails a poetics of designing.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign Cybernetics
EditorsThomas Fischer, Christiane M. Herr
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-18557-2
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-18556-5
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameDesign Research Foundations
ISSN (Print)2366-4622
ISSN (Electronic)2366-4630


  • Aesthetics
  • Architecture
  • Design
  • Poetics
  • Second-order cybernetics

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