Abstract

Is there a difference between design practice and design research practice? Building on recent discussions within design research about whether the design practice which occurs within design research is distinct and separate from the design practice which occurs within the design profession, this paper presents a case where constructive design practice was employed within a research project, using this example to study the nature of the design process in research. Through a thorough analysis of the designs generated, the motivations behind their development, their use as research tools, and the knowledge they generated, we identified three ways in which the design process was altered when it was imported into the research. First, the degree of development of the designs shifted from fully functional to functional enough. Second, the designs were developed in order to ask questions rather than trying to solve a problem. And finally, the failure of the design was equally able to contribute to generating knowledge as its success. We argue that these shifts in values clearly distinguish design research practice from professional design practice, but come with very real consequences that challenge the core measures we use to assess design.

Keywords:

Research through Design; Design Practice; Design Research Practice

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Jun 16th, 12:00 AM

Why ‘design research practice’ is not design as we know it

Is there a difference between design practice and design research practice? Building on recent discussions within design research about whether the design practice which occurs within design research is distinct and separate from the design practice which occurs within the design profession, this paper presents a case where constructive design practice was employed within a research project, using this example to study the nature of the design process in research. Through a thorough analysis of the designs generated, the motivations behind their development, their use as research tools, and the knowledge they generated, we identified three ways in which the design process was altered when it was imported into the research. First, the degree of development of the designs shifted from fully functional to functional enough. Second, the designs were developed in order to ask questions rather than trying to solve a problem. And finally, the failure of the design was equally able to contribute to generating knowledge as its success. We argue that these shifts in values clearly distinguish design research practice from professional design practice, but come with very real consequences that challenge the core measures we use to assess design.

 

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