Crafters, explorers, innovators, and co-creators – Narratives in designers’ identity work

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The role of designers is changing in many organizations, yet we know little of how designers themselves construct their professional identities. Based on 38 interviews of designers working in a design agency, we use Bakhtinian literary genres and chronotopes as a lens to identify four embedded narrative types. These highlight different aspects of designers’ work, including different constructions of design – ranging from craftmanship and exploration to innovations and co-creation. Novelty, learning and community emerged as fundamental constructs within designer identity. Furthermore, identity work in each narrative was connected to different types of triggering situations and contextual promoters. The analysis illuminates the multifaceted and situated nature of professional identity work, emphasizing the need to examine design embedded in its context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-112
Number of pages31
JournalDesign Studies
Early online date18 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • design expertise
  • design practice
  • psychology of design
  • creativity
  • professional identity


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