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Subject:

Having a degree in Bicycle Design (was something else)

From:

"Chris RUST(SCS)" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Chris RUST(SCS)

Date:

Wed, 18 Oct 2000 12:42:20 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (48 lines)

[log in to unmask] writes:
>Nigel wrote: I do think that it helps to have a design undergraduate
>(and/or
>masters) degree when doing PhD in design research. Why is that? Just my
>prejudice? Or do such students bring some kinds of appropriate knowledge,
>values and skills with them? Anyone agree/disagree? (Oh, go on - I'm sure
>you do!)

I don't wish to be absolutist, and Nigel was definitely not being so in saying
that "it helps", but I have observed some worrying situations where a
practitioner's insight would have been more than helpful.

I have seen a number of research papers which exhibit rigorous method and
impeccable internal logic but which collapse completely when you see that the
researcher has failed to notice fundamental issues in the context of their work
which negate their efforts and findings.  These may be to do with markets,
human/technical factors or issues of design realisation, even assumptions about
what designers do.

Sadly the papers have been accepted by referees and co-authored/endorsed by
distinguished academics (they often read pretty well until you see the context
in the presentation slides) and I have sometimes looked round a conference
audience and felt that the majority of people there were not seeing the
contradictions in the work, possibly for the same reason - they do not have, or
have lost touch with, the experience which would make those contradictions
apparent. 

In one particularly unhappy example a researcher started the paper with the
claim that a particular product had become "boring" - that is, most designs
were very similar to the archetype. I had just spent the previous two days
photographing the huge number of wonderful variations available on this
particular product in that country, as well as noting that the archetype which
he referred to was a very specific, long established class of the product
valued by a particular, conservative section of the market.

Of course, as Brynjulf has said, not all designing is concerned with material
objects, one of our MA students is currently "designing" a new approach to
tourism for his home country. However, whatever your area of design, some
practical experience and insight into what really happens in professional work
cannot be a disadvantage.

best wishes from Sheffield
Chris Rust



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