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Which clippings match 'Ken Friedman' keyword pg.1 of 1
24 FEBRUARY 2013

Theory construction problems in design research

"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


2008 • Anselm Strauss • application theories • art and craft • Barney Glaser • Christopher Fraylingclinical researchclinical situationsconceptualisationdesign disciplinedesign fielddesign researchdesign studies • design theories • Donald Schon • empirical experience • empirical-analyticexplicit knowledge • general theory of design • generalisabilitygenerating theorygrounded theoryHerbert Read • individual design experience • inductive enquiryinductive reasoning • inductive theory • Journal of Visual Art Practice • Juliet Corbin • Ken FriedmanMichael Polanyi • micro-level grounded theories • Nigel Cross • pamphlet • Peter Bergerpractice-based research • research by design • research by or through designresearch for design • research into design • research through designsocial sciencestacit knowledge • theoretical sensitivity • theory building • theory construction • Thomas KuhnThomas Luckmann


Simon Perkins
05 JANUARY 2013

Epistemological Positions in Design Research

"The significance of acknowledging the differences between the aspects of these epistemologies is twofold; first it connects the theory of research to the practice of research and reveals the limits of truth claims in terms of objectivity, validity and generalisability. Second, Crotty's model emphasizes the necessity of remaining epistemologically consistent. Objectivist research must distinguish scientifically established objective facts from people's everyday subjective meanings. In turn, consistently constructionist research must place all meanings, scientific and non–scientific on an equal basis – they are all constructions, and none is truly objective or generalisable [sic]. The further one moves towards subjectivism, the greater the limits of the objectivity, validity and generalisablity of one's truth claims (Seale 1999). Being epistemologically aware requires that at each point in the research process we recognize that we make a variety of assumptions about human knowledge, the realities encountered in the human world and the interpretability of our findings."

(Luke Feast and Gavin Melles, 2010)

Feast, L. and G. Melles (2010). "Epistemological Positions in Design Research: A Brief Review of the Literature". Connected 2010 – 2nd International Conference on Design Education Sydney, Australia, University of New South Wales.

"Point of View" by Christopher Hassler []



2010academic communityassumptions • Charles Owen • Christopher Frayling • Clive Seale • constructionism • constructionist research • creative practice • Daniela Buchler • design educationdesign research • epistemological consistency • epistemological positions • epistemologies • epistemologyfindings • Fiona Candlin • Gavin Mellesgeneralisability • human knowledge • International Conference on Design Education • interpretability • Kees DorstKen Friedmanknowledge constructions • limits of objectivity • limits of truth claims • Luke Feast • Michael BiggsMichael CrottyNigel Cross • non-scientific meanings • objective • objectivist research • objectivity • practice of research • realitiesreview of literature • Roy Prentice • scholarly researchscientific methodscientifically established objective factssubjectivism • theory of research • truth claimsUniversity of New South Walesvalidity


Simon Perkins
04 NOVEMBER 2009

Research into, by, and for Design

"Rendering the tacit explicit is a crucial act of communication that shapes research and the research cultures we build in any field. Only by articulating what we know in some way do we enable others to take it in and adapt or adopt it as their own knowledge. The complaint of novice scholars in design research that we are 'privileging the text' in a way that somehow devalues design has it all wrong. Only through explicit communication do we help others to access our knowledge so that they may themselves transform what would otherwise be the raw data of artefact or experience into information on which they may act to create knowledge. (This involves a series of issues and distinctions I don't propose to elaborate here. I have discussed the nature of knowledge and the distinctions among data, information, and knowledge elsewhere, f.ex., in Friedman [1998] or Friedman and Olaisen [1999])."

(Ken Friedman 21 September 2008)


art and designartefactartistic practiceChristopher Fraylingconceptualisationcreative practicedesigndiscoveryembodyenquiryexplicit knowledgeKen Friedmanknowledge • Nabble • PhD • PhD design • privileging the text • researchtacit knowledgetheory building


Simon Perkins

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