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26 OCTOBER 2014

Donald Norman: The Research-Practice Gulf

"There is a great gulf between the research community and practice. Moreover, there is often a great gull between what designers do and what industry needs. We believe we know how to do design, but this belief is based more on faith than on data, and this belief reinforces the gulf between the research community and practice.

I find that the things we take most for granted are seldom examined or questioned. As a result, it is often our most fundamental beliefs that are apt to be wrong.

In this talk, deliberately intended to be controversial. I examine some of our most cherished beliefs. Examples: design research helps create breakthrough products; complexity is bad and simplicity good; there is a natural chain from research to product."



2010abstract models • applied social science • appropriately complex representationbreakthrough innovation • breakthrough products • call to actionChicagocomplexitydesign and innovationdesign communitydesign conferencedesign practicedesign research • design research conference • designer-centred designdisruptive innovationdogmaDonald Normanethnographic design approach • existing product categories • failure of design research • fundamental beliefs • generalised modelsHCDhuman-centred designideation • IIT Institute of Design (ID) • Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) • incremental innovationinnovation process • innovative breakthroughs • keynote address • product developmentradical innovationrapid prototypingreal-world designreal-world projectsresearch communityresearch-practice gulf • results-driven • simplicitytesting perpetuates mediocrity • translational engineering • translational sciencewhat designers do • what industry needs


Simon Perkins
06 DECEMBER 2011

Design for enabling sustainable livelihoods in communities

"This paper focuses on how designers can contribute to enabling sustainable livelihoods in communities, especially communities of people with physical disabilities. This is a new area of design research and practice. The paper draws on a case study of the role and contribution of designers in one of the most disadvantaged communities in a semi–urban area of Thailand between 2007 and 2010. This was a collaborative project with nineteen community members with physical impairment in the Samutprakran province. This community had a long history of developing crafts for income generation. The aim was to explore and test new approaches that would result in a model leading to alternative livelihoods, including transforming their capabilities and using available resources in their community to achieve positive outcomes. Participatory Action Research (PAR), Human–Centered Design (HCD) and Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) were employed as research strategies and approaches. The project was structured around three workshops targeting three successive stages: 1) recruiting participants for a case study and facilitating the gathering of their own data and doing the necessary analysis; 2) enabling them to create and make their own choices to improve their situation; and 3) monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the implementation. There were four key findings. Firstly, the community participants stated that they had achieved the livelihood goals that they desired. They also devised a complementary income–generating activity which enabled them to continue to improve their capabilities, earn income and reinforce their value in their community, and to reduce their vulnerability. From the researcher's perspective, PAR integrated with HCD and combined with SLA were shown to be effective strategies and approaches because they facilitate the transfer of knowledge to the participants, giving them both incentive and ownership in their ideas and actions, enabling them to create and pursue their own solutions. Finally, this study demonstrated the benefits of reorientation of the designer's role from that of a solution provider to that of an agent of sustainable change."

(Siriporn Peters, 4 May 2011)

2). Siriporn Peters (2011). "Design for enabling sustainable livelihoods in communities", Iridescent: Icograda Journal of Design Research ISSN 1923–5003.



academic journal • alternative livelihoods • capabilities • case studycommunity • community participants • community-generated content • complementary income-generating activity • craftdata gatheringdesign research • design research and practice • disabilitydisadvantaged communitiesHCDhuman-centred design • income generation • livelihood • livelihood goals • ownershipPARParticipatory Action Research • people with physical disabilities • physical disabilities • physical impairmentresearch and practiceresearch approachesresearch strategies • semi-urban • SLA • sustainability • sustainable change • sustainable livelihoods • sustainable livelihoods approach • Thailandtransfer of knowledgetransformationvulnerabilityworkshops


Simon Perkins

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