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Defined by Design

The Surprising Power of Hidden Gender, Age, and Body Bias in Everyday Products and Places

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


This wide-ranging overview of design in everyday life demonstrates how design shapes our lives in ways most of us would never imagine. The author, a leading expert in social and psychological issues in design, uncovers the gender, age, and body biases inherent in the designs of common products and living spaces that we all routinely use. From the schools our children attend and the buildings we work in to ill-fitting clothes and one-size-fits-all seating in public transportation, restaurants, and movie theaters, we are surrounded by an artificial environment that can affect our comfort, our self-image, and even our health.

Anthony points out the flaws and disadvantages of certain fashions, children's toys, high-tech gadgets, packaging, public transportation, public restrooms, neighborhood layouts, classrooms, workplaces, hospitals, and more. In an increasingly diverse populace where many body types, age groups, and cultures interact, she argues that it's time our environments caught up.

This fascinating book--full of aha moments--will teach readers to recognize the hidden biases in certain products and places and to work for more intelligent and healthy design in all areas of life.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 16, 2017 – Given the topic of how poor or inadequate design can cause unintentional difficulties and even harm, the ill-structured nature of this book is especially ironic. Anthony (Designing for Diversity) attempts to give her chapters order by using descriptive chapter heads and subheads, but she quickly veers from her stated topic; for example, she discusses the dangerous design of snow blowers in a chapter about inaccessible packaging. In another chapter, she describes how cell phones may lower sperm count when carried in the pants pocket, moves on to distracted driving, and meanders back to mentioning that hot laptops may also affect men's ability to reproduce, all within the same subsection. Descriptions of many of the factors that go into poor design (such as inadequate testing car seats) are informative, the complaints follow one after the other with no pause to suggest solutions or alternatives until the very last chapter, in which solutions are likewise heaped together in a way that reads more like a laundry list than a call to action.

Customer Reviews

A Challenge To Innovate, Putting People First

Thoroughly researched, succinctly presented, and enjoyable to read, “Defined by Design” is a collection of opportunities to innovate. Dr. Anthony offers design examples challenging everyone from international designers to home caregivers to take action and make the world a better place. More than just a book about “things” and how they could be improved, “Defined by Design” encourages readers to think outside their own skin and experience designed places and things through others’ perspectives. Always thought provoking, each design example leaves the reader pondering multiple “what if” scenarios. The book is an ideal launching point for further discussion in group contexts of college courses, professional design teams, hospitality providers, retail sales staff, health care professionals, or any collective of people who seek to serve their community, enhance quality of life, and design to make a difference.

Defined by Design
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Design
  • Published: Mar 14, 2017
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 320 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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