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08 MAY 2011

Design Research: Building a Culture from Scratch

"Conference description of the topic: A 2005 education survey by Metropolis Magazine showed no consensus among practitioners or educators about what constitutes design research; limited access to research findings from professional practice; nascent use of students as interns in the research process; and great confusion about what design issues deserve the greatest attention by researchers. Organizers of the 2007 conference of the International Association of Societies of Design Research reported that only 10% of the paper submissions came from Americans, demonstrating that the US is behind other countries in the generation of new knowledge.

Despite this confusion, there is ample evidence that research will play an increasing role in the future of professional practice and that the typical usability testing in labs and focus groups will be insufficient in informing large–scale communication strategies and technological development. Further, it is apparent that design practitioners consider research to be proprietary and that any large–scale dissemination of new knowledge must come from academic institutions.

It is clear, therefore, that much work is yet to be done in building a research culture. Traditionally, undergraduate 'research' activities have been defined in terms of existing information retrieval on the subject matter of the communication, the wants and needs of the client, and the technical demands of message production and distribution, little of which is transferrable to other projects. Further, in many programs there is limited curricular distinction between the research behaviors expected of undergraduate and graduate students, leaving the majority of master's graduates unprepared for the scholarship and knowledge generation demands of current faculty positions in research–driven institutions."

(Judith Gregory, Deborah Littlejohn et al., 10 October 2010)

Moderator Judith Gregory and writer Deborah Littlejohn have a report on Design research: Building a culture from scratch

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TAGS

2007 • academic institutions • academic programmesart and design conference • building a research culture • communication strategiesconceptualisationconferencecurriculumdesign educatorsdesign practitionersdesign researchenquiryfocus groups • from scratch • graduate studentsInternational Association of Societies of Design Research • Judith Gregory • knowledge generation • masters degree • Metropolis Magazine • new knowledgeprofessional practicerequirements gatheringresearch • research findings from professional practice • research process • research-driven institutions • researchersscholarship • technical demands of message production and distribution • technological development • the wants and needs of the client • theory building • transferrable • undergraduate researchundergraduate studentsusability testing

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
24 APRIL 2009

Design Thinking: a methodology that imbues the full spectrum of innovation activities with a human-centred design ethos

"Design thinking is ... a discipline that uses the designer's sensibility and methods to match people's needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity. Like [Thomas] Edison's painstaking innovation process, it often entails a great deal of perspiration. ...

Historically, design has been treated as a downstream step in the development process – the point where designers, who have played no earlier role in the substantive work of innovation, come along and put a beautiful wrapper around the idea. To be sure, this approach has stimulated market growth in many areas by making new products and technologies aesthetically attractive and therefore more desirable to consumers or by enhancing brand perception through smart, evocative advertising and communication strategies. During the latter half of the twentieth century design became an increasingly valuable competitive asset in, for example, the consumer electronics, automotive, and consumer packaged goods industries. But in most others it remained a late–stage add–on.

Now, however, rather than asking designers to make an already developed idea more attractive to consumers, companies are asking them to create ideas that better meet consumers' needs and desires. The former role is tactical, and results in limited value creation; the latter is strategic, and leads to dramatic new forms of value."

(Tim Brown, 2008, Harvard Business Review)

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TAGS

2008 • aesthetically attractive • applied researchbest practicebrand perceptionbusiness machine • business savvy • business sense • business world • communication strategiescompetitive advantageconsumer desireconsumer electronics • consumer packaged goods • consumerscreativity • customer value • design ideasdesign methodologydesign methodsdesign thinkingdesigners • designers sensibility • development process • dictation • direct observationdiscovery through design • discrete device • electric light bulb • electric power generation • electric power transmission • envisionevocative advertisingexperimental investigationgeneralistgenius • gifted tinkerers • Harvard Business Reviewhuman-centred designhumanisation of technologyIDEOimprovisationinnovation • innovation activities • innovation processintegrationinventioninventoriterative designlightbulblone genius • market growth • market opportunity • marketplace • Menlo Park • needs and desires • new forms of value • new productsnew technologies • parlour trick • phonograph • prescient • product differentiation • products are made • products are marketed • products are packaged • products are sold • products are supported • recording dictation • replaying dictation • research and development • research and development laboratory • strategic thinking • substantive work of innovation • team-based approach • technologically feasible • Thomas Edison • trial and error • twentieth century • viable business strategy • what people want

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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