"We differentiate research artifacts from design practice artifacts in two important ways. First, the intent going into the research is to produce knowledge for the research and practice communities, not to make a commercially viable product. To this end, we expect research projects that take this research through design approach will ignore or deemphasize perspectives in framing the problem, such as the detailed economics associated with manufacturability and distribution, the integration of the product into a product line, the effect of the product on a company’s identity, etc. In this way design researchers focus on making the right things, while design practitioners focus on making commercially successful things.
Second, research contributions should be artifacts that demonstrate significant invention. The contributions should be novel integrations of theory, technology, user need, and context; not just refinements of products that already exist in the research literature or commercial markets. The contribution must demonstrate a significant advance through the integration. This aspect of a design research contribution makes particular sense in the interaction design space of HCI. Meteoric technological advances in hardware and software drive an aggressive invention of novel products in HCI and interaction design domains that are not as aggressively experienced by other design domains. While product designers might find themselves redesigning office furniture to meet the changing needs of work, interaction designers more often find themselves tasked with inventing whole new product categories.
Our model of design research allows interaction design researchers to do what designers do best: to study the world and then to make things intended to affect change. Our model provides a new channel for the power of design thinking, desired by many disciplines, to be unleashed as in a research context. Design researchers can contribute from a position of strength, instead of aping the methods of other disciplines as a means of justifying their research contribution."
(John Zimmerman, Jodi Forlizzi, Shelley Evenson, p.500, 2007)
John Zimmerman, Jodi Forlizzi, and Shelley Evenson (2007). "Research through design as a method for interaction design research in HCI". In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems (CHI '07). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 493-502. DOI=10.1145/1240624.1240704 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1240624.1240704
"Until recently, the field of design was an adjunct to art and craft. With the transformation of design into an industrial discipline come responsibilities that the field of design studies has only recently begun to address.
This transformation means that design is becoming a generalizable discipline that may as readily be applied to processes, media interfaces or information artefacts as to tools, clothing, furniture or advertisements. To understand design as a discipline that can function within any of these frames means developing a general theory of design. This general theory should support application theories and operational programmes. Moving from a general theory of design to the task of solving problems involves a significantly different mode of conceptualization and explicit knowledge management than adapting the tacit knowledge of individual design experience.
So far, most design theories involve clinical situations or micro-level grounded theories developed through induction. This is necessary, but it is not sufficient for the kinds of progress we need.
In the social sciences, grounded theory has developed into a robust and sophisticated system for generating theory across levels. A ‘grounded’ theory is an inductive theory emerging or rising from the ground of direct, empirical experience. These theories ultimately lead to larger ranges of understanding, and the literature of grounded theory is rich in discussions of theory construction and theoretical sensitivity (Glaser 1978, 1992; Glaser and Strauss 1967; Strauss 1991; Strauss and Corbin 1990, 1994).
One of the deep problems in design research is the failure to engage in grounded theory, developing theory out of practice. Instead, many designers confuse practice with research. Rather than developing theory from practice through articulation and inductive inquiry, some designers mistakenly argue that practice is research. From this, they claim that practicebased research is itself a form of theory construction."
(Ken Friedman, 2008, pp.153-154)
Ken Friedman (2008). "Research into, by and for design." Journal of Visual Arts Practice Volume 7 Number 2. Intellect Ltd. Article. English Language. doi: 10.1386/jvap.7.2.153/1
"Research through design focuses on the role of the product prototype as an instrument of design knowledge enquiry. The prototype can evolve in degrees of granularity, from interactive mockups to fully functional prototypes, as a means to formulate, develop and validate design knowledge. The designer-researcher can begin to explore complex product interaction issues in a realistic user context and reflect back on the design process and decisions made based on actual user-interaction with the test prototype. Observations of how the prototype was experienced may be used to guide research through design as an iterative process, helping to evolve the product prototype."
(David V. Keyson Miguel Bruns Alonso)
David V. Keyson Miguel Bruns Alonso (2009. "Empirical Research Through Design". International Association of Societies of Design Research
"Christopher Frayling's category of "research through design", although somewhat crystallised, helped to gain recognition for on going and future design research. Among many interpretation of Frayling's categories we mainly refer to Alain Findeli (2000) when observing that "Research for design" describes what is known as "R&D"; it has no scientific recognition (...), since there is usually no discourse attached to it, no intention of generalisability except technological, and no "accumulative" effect in the theoretical realm (...). A lot - but not all - of what is sometimes called "practice-based" or "project-based research" belongs here (...). "Research about or in design" covers academically recognised, published, and even funded research in the field of design (its objects, products, processes, values, theoretical and historiographical models, etc.), carried out by academics of the design or other disciplines, with the epistemological and methodological tools of the already established and respected academic disciplines, and as such foreign to design (...). "Research by or through design" is research in the field of design carried out with the tools of design, i.e. mainly with its more original and specific feature: the project. Of course, other methodological tools should not be neglected (...). The main aim of the research should not be, of course, to carry out just another design project, but to use the design project as our lab, our terrain. Among the purposes of this type of research, one should find the contribution to a "better" (in my words "more enlightened") design practice, at short or long term. Our epistemological and methodological challenge is to devise an academically credible, rigorous, manageable, dependable, and teachable relationship between the research and the design project, i.e. between theory and practice. (...) . At the same time, the growing awareness of the intrinsic strengths of design thinking within its own context and a growing acceptance of design on its own terms helped to recognise that design has its own distinct intellectual culture ."
(Silvia Pizzocaro, Politecnico di Milano)
1). Silvia Pizzocaro, 'Towards a Strategic Role for Doctoral Research in Design', Joining Forces - Design Research, Industries and a New Interface for Competitiveness - Helsinki Pre-congress conference - September 2005 - Media Centre Lume - UIAH