Design history tends to focus on designers and design outcomes, primarily objects. In contrast, historical accounts and analyses of designing are rare. This paper argues for the need of design histories that also address the origins of our design methods with respect to contexts, values and ideas in order to understand what these actually bring to the contemporary design situation. To illustrate what such a historical approach to design methods might bring, we present a study on the origins of Scandinavian user-centered design. In particular, we discuss the Home Research Institute's (HFI) development of methods for investigating and reforming everyday life and domestic work in mid-1940s Sweden.

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