Dear list and Rosan
First a very short presentation. My name is Erik Stolterman, I am a
professor in Informatics, Sweden. I have been doing research on design
since early 80's. Even though my focus is on information systems
design, I am deeply involved in the formulation of design as its own
tradition and philosophy.
I just want to make some short comments based on what Rosan Chow wrote.
> "my view is that reflection and articulation of design is or can be
> quite independent of the practice of design. it is very much like the
> relation between literary criticism and production of literature; art
> history and arts; science and technology. my interest is in bridging
> this gap."
There is a difference, both in the activities as well as in the
evaluation, between practicing design and reflecting upon design. These
two activities have different purpose and extremly different outcomes
with relating measures of success. I find Rosan's remark about
'bridging the gap' a fully valid goal, having said that, I think it is
also important to understand and appreciate the differences, and in
keeping the gap.
In a proposal such as the UCI new design school there is of course a
choice made when it comes to this 'gap'. There is a chosen 'balance' ,
or relation, between the two. My personal belief is that most designers
benefit from a trained skill to reflect and articulate. This is at
least 'true' when it comes to a whole field of design, maybe not always
on the level of the individual designer. Design fields that have spent
some time and energy on collaborative 'reflection and articulation'
seems to mature. A language is created and 'invisible' and 'mystical'
aspects of practice can be shared, inspected and critized.
Rosan also related to what Terry wrote:
> "I hold Terry's work in high regards.† I think, what Terry's view on
> the evaluation on the articulation of designing is a supermodel, if
> one is to take a scientific point of view with the goal of seeking
> truth. Here the key words for evaluation are explanation, prediction,
> and inclusiveness.
> but are these the same evaluation criteria for articulations of
> design(ing), IF these articulations are to be instructive to the
> practice of design."
Even if I advocate reflection and articulation there is a danger if
this is automatically translated into a measuring system valid for
scientific studies, and especially if we think that these values are
not only valid for the 'research process studying design', but also for
the design process itself. There might for instance be a possibly valid
scientific result somewhere showing that it is scientifically true that
design practice can not be fully explained. I find this kind of
scientific results for the guidance of practice limited in scope and
value. But, this does not mean that design research cannot be extremly
valuable to practice. Social science and humanties have always adopted
a different approach where research is about the interpretation,
examination, criticism of human practice. It is a kind of pratice that
always has to be re-interpreted. There are new generations, new ideas,
new technology, and most important new dreams and wishes of a different
So, a design school today need to take on the challenge of helping
students to become designers, with all necessary skills (in relation to
the chosen field), and with a strong will and skill to constantly
reflect and articulate the hidden habits and patterns of thought that
shapes practice. The skill to reflect and articulate has to be
'trained' and developed, otherwise the students will be in the hands of
stronger 'forces', such as habits, markets.
The only way to bridge the gap is by keeping the tension alive, as
something that should not be 'solved' but cared for in an intentional
Professor Erik Stolterman, Ph.D.
Department of Informatics
S-901 87 UmeŚ
Phone: +46 (0)90-7865531
Email: [log in to unmask]
Advanced Design Institute: http://www.advanceddesign.org
My new book! http://www.advanceddesign.org/book.html