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11 OCTOBER 2009

An Evolving Map of Design Practice and Design Research

"The design research map is defined and described by two intersecting dimensions: One is defined by approach and the other is defined by mind–set. Approaches to design research have come from a research–led perspective (shown at the bottom of the map) and from a design–led perspective (shown at the top of the map). The research–led perspective has the longest history and has been driven by applied psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, and engineers. The , on the other hand, has come into view more recently.

There are two opposing mind–sets evident in the practice of design research today. The left side of the map describes a culture characterized by an expert mind–set. Design researchers here are involved with designing for people. These design researchers consider themselves to be the experts, and they see and refer to people as 'subjects,' 'users,' 'consumers,' etc. The right side of the map describes a culture characterized by a participatory mind–set. Design researchers on this side design with people. They see the people as the true experts in domains of experience such as living, learning, working, etc. Design researchers who have a participatory mind–set value people as co–creators in the design process. It is difficult for many people to move from the left to the right side of the map (or vice versa), as this shift entails a significant cultural change."

(Liz Sanders)



artistic practiceco-creatorsconceptualisationcreative practicedesign-led • design-led perspective • discoveryenquiryexpert • Liz Sanders • map of design practice and design research • participatoryresearch • research-led • research-led perspective


Simon Perkins

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