In 1992 I undertook a Masters Degree at RMIT University with the then famous ‘National Key Centre for Design’ working with the Australian Indigenous (Koorie) Community in Victoria in a study of material culture.
The view was to work with the community as a control group in comparing traditional artefact with contemporary items.
At once the academic community railed against the research from a maternalistic ‘anti appropriationist’ stance through to the outright racist paternalist, thinking that nothing could be gained from the research.
I transferred my Masters across to the Industrial Design faculty and succeeded in the research which is now considered the field of 'Design Anthropology'.
Biomic Design was the theory establish, which called for designers to shift from human-centred design to place the environment or ‘biome’ at the centre of their consideration in designing product.
This was recently (2010) made prominent by Mercedes Benz with the naming of their concept car the ‘Biome’.
I have posted an extract from my 1997 thesis which was first aired at the 1997 Interior Architect and Designer Federation (IFI) Conference, “A Sense of Place” in Killarney, Ireland.