In tune with Dick's post, I'm going to agree with the three posts from
Bryn, Nigel, and Dick. In doing so, I'll offer a distinction that is
sometimes neglected on this list.
Our conversations often seem to assume in that "designing" equals some form
of material making. There are many forms of design practice in the world
today. Some of these forms of design are expressed through making physical
artifacts. An undergraduate background and a first-level professional
degree in the making professions are suited to these forms of design. This
would include industrial design, ergonomics, and some forms of
communication design, graphic design, and visual design along with some
areas of engineering design or architectural design.
Other forms of design do not involve making material artifacts. For these
professions, using one's hands or making objects is irrelevant.
For some of these design professions, different kinds of numbers or
alphanumeric programming are the tools of the trade. Software design,
system architecture, and some kinds of software or systems engineering are
cases in point. For some forms of design, words and diagrams may be useful
tools. Organization design, behavioral design, and social systems
architecture are cases in point.
The difficulty that engineers and hands-on makers have in solving people
problems at the companies they establish to make the artifacts they design.
This is where other kinds of design are valuable. There is no reason for an
organization designer with a solid background in management studies and
human behavior to have an undergraduate degree in industrial design. In
contrast, there may well be a valid reason for such a designer to earn a
doctorate in design.
Design practice involves interdisciplinary, integrative work that may draw
on several fields. The intellectual discipline of design is an
interdisciplinary, integrative research field. It may well be that a
background in professional practice is the best basis of a doctorate in
design. This is not necessarily a background in one of the making
The choice of a bicycle depends on the kind of riding you need to do. This,
it turn, depends on where you plan to go. It's much the same with the
choice of a suitable background for a doctorate.
Ken Friedman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Leadership and Strategic Design
Department of Knowledge Management
Norwegian School of Management
+47 22.98.50.00 Telephone
+47 220.127.116.11 Telefax
+46 (46) 53.245 Telephone
+46 (46) 53.345 Telefax
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