Abstract

The aim of this paper is to develop an effective observational research method that will foster a practical sense for sustainability in student designers. It brings together the social science derived research method of observing material culture with the ergonomic method of heuristics, whereby the physical object guides self-learning. It takes an action-research approach to the theory/practice divide, arguing that theory best makes sense for the form-focussed designer in ‘concrete’ situations in which the designer is engaged. It also reflects upon the experience of teaching this form of observational research to industrial design students. The presentation will use a series of product-props to demonstrate how the complex ambiguity of physical things can be methodically explored. Main findings indicate that the predominantly technical approach to industrial design education severely limits the development of a critical perspective on material culture and an understanding of the significance of the ‘use phase’ of a product’s life.

COinS
 
Nov 17th, 12:00 AM

Research Through Design: Observational Research for Sustainability.

The aim of this paper is to develop an effective observational research method that will foster a practical sense for sustainability in student designers. It brings together the social science derived research method of observing material culture with the ergonomic method of heuristics, whereby the physical object guides self-learning. It takes an action-research approach to the theory/practice divide, arguing that theory best makes sense for the form-focussed designer in ‘concrete’ situations in which the designer is engaged. It also reflects upon the experience of teaching this form of observational research to industrial design students. The presentation will use a series of product-props to demonstrate how the complex ambiguity of physical things can be methodically explored. Main findings indicate that the predominantly technical approach to industrial design education severely limits the development of a critical perspective on material culture and an understanding of the significance of the ‘use phase’ of a product’s life.

 

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