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Emergence is a well established though highly contested concept in science that is found in a range of disciplines from biology and artificial life to physics and complexity. It is not in doubt that emergence is of interest to other fields including design, though the manner of its relation to this discipline is much less clear and its effect remains an open question. This paper will argue that emergence has set in motion a shift in the way we understand design. Building on the theoretical and philosophical resources provided by Gilles Deleuze (1994) and Manuel Delanda (2002) in particular, emergence marks a reorientation in the techniques and practices of designing, away from the specific designation of an objects qualities, towards the specific designation of an environment in which the object’s qualities might emerge from a range of potentialities.
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