Abstract

In design practice and in design research the term ‘experiment’ is widely used and often misused. To some extent, this can be ascribed to the fact that the experimental method comes close to or partly overlaps the approaches of ‘trial and error’ and ‘reflection-inaction’, as defined by Donald Schön. Nevertheless, these methods or rather approaches differ in regard to their aims, results, and context of application. Based on an investigation in design literature and various case examples from practice-led doctoral research, this paper attempts to highlight the differences between scholarly experiment,‘trial and error’ and ‘reflection-in-action’. The initial point of this investigation is from the perspective of the so-called New Experimentalism: a branch of the philosophy of natural science, and from the work of Ian Hacking that redirected and broadened the traditional conception of experiment. Hence, the role of creative practice in design research will be scrutinized from the perspective of New Experimentalism. The goal is to justify the role of artefacts in practice-led design research and in making and doing (action, intervention) as an experimental practice that contributes to the creation of knowledge and the construction of theory.

Keywords

experiment, new experimentalism, reflection-in-action, trial and error, practice-led design research

COinS
 
Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Experiments in Design and in Research

In design practice and in design research the term ‘experiment’ is widely used and often misused. To some extent, this can be ascribed to the fact that the experimental method comes close to or partly overlaps the approaches of ‘trial and error’ and ‘reflection-inaction’, as defined by Donald Schön. Nevertheless, these methods or rather approaches differ in regard to their aims, results, and context of application. Based on an investigation in design literature and various case examples from practice-led doctoral research, this paper attempts to highlight the differences between scholarly experiment,‘trial and error’ and ‘reflection-in-action’. The initial point of this investigation is from the perspective of the so-called New Experimentalism: a branch of the philosophy of natural science, and from the work of Ian Hacking that redirected and broadened the traditional conception of experiment. Hence, the role of creative practice in design research will be scrutinized from the perspective of New Experimentalism. The goal is to justify the role of artefacts in practice-led design research and in making and doing (action, intervention) as an experimental practice that contributes to the creation of knowledge and the construction of theory.

 

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