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08 FEBRUARY 2006

Research for, about or in, by or through, Design

"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. (...) [11]. 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 [12]."

(Silvia Pizzocaro, 2005)

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

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