Abstract

How do designers move from believing, or assuming, to knowing in the course of action? In industrial design this move involves using theories under different ontology from different domains, and bridging them is an act that is epistemologically uncertain. The article discusses the nature of design knowledge, starting from a literature study and a model of the minimum knowledge needed for designing. Practising designers need to justify their assumptions in a large number of ways in order to arrive at a solution. If this amalgam of justificatory arguments is to be taken up by researchers in design methodology it poses significant challenges. Notably, the warrants employed by designers are seldom globally valid. Furthermore, designers use, and must use scientific, ethic, epistemic and social warrants. There are many conceptual scientific problems associated with employing so many different types of knowledge. One problem is that of combining theories under different epistemology, another is that of combining ethical knowledge with epistemological knowledge. If the design process can be understood as a set of heuristics, then design methodology research will have great problems making usable all-encompassing models. If the purpose of design methodology is to make theories that are relevant to design practitioners, then testing and grounding heuristics may be the right place to start.

Keywords:

Industrial design, design knowledge, design practice, design methodology

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Nov 17th, 12:00 AM

What is Design Knowledge?

How do designers move from believing, or assuming, to knowing in the course of action? In industrial design this move involves using theories under different ontology from different domains, and bridging them is an act that is epistemologically uncertain. The article discusses the nature of design knowledge, starting from a literature study and a model of the minimum knowledge needed for designing. Practising designers need to justify their assumptions in a large number of ways in order to arrive at a solution. If this amalgam of justificatory arguments is to be taken up by researchers in design methodology it poses significant challenges. Notably, the warrants employed by designers are seldom globally valid. Furthermore, designers use, and must use scientific, ethic, epistemic and social warrants. There are many conceptual scientific problems associated with employing so many different types of knowledge. One problem is that of combining theories under different epistemology, another is that of combining ethical knowledge with epistemological knowledge. If the design process can be understood as a set of heuristics, then design methodology research will have great problems making usable all-encompassing models. If the purpose of design methodology is to make theories that are relevant to design practitioners, then testing and grounding heuristics may be the right place to start.

 

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