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PHD-DESIGN  July 2008

PHD-DESIGN July 2008

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Subject:

Working across multiple design sectors (was A simple definition of 'Design'?)

From:

"Lubomir S. Popov" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Lubomir S. Popov

Date:

Mon, 30 Jun 2008 23:48:43 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (76 lines)

Hello everyone,

It is getting interesting. The original thread that Terry started 
could have lead us to discuss our differences. Instead, we started 
discussing the nature of design problems an demonstrated our differences.

I have no problem with the notion of problem. Usually, "engineering" 
designers are pretty much at ease with it and actually love it. On 
the other side are the artists, they hate it. Actually they do 
problematization, but in a different way. Fill explained it 
beautifully. Artists are in a different situation compared to 
engineers and can afford a broad and soft approach. Compared to the 
Arts, Engineering is already in an advanced stage of explicating its 
own methodology. (I will reconsider this if you object.) There is a 
tendency to explicate the process and the method in every profession. 
Luckily for the humankind, the Arts resist this tendency and continue 
to operate with the broad net. However, if we go back in history and 
compare, we might see that compared to previous epochs, nowadays even 
artists start explicating their process and method and becoming more 
reflective over the steps in the process.

I can understand Teena if she is a book illustrator. Very often 
defining the problem might lead to a poor illustration. The reason is 
that the problem might not be defined properly or adequately at that 
time, or the artist simply cannot go step-by-stem from the problem to 
the solution. There are other ways to sniff and fetch. I teach my 
students how to conceptualize and start with a design concept. 
However, after the first half of the project time passes away without 
a good design, I encourage students to change the strategy -- just 
find an exiting precedent and make something innovative. The 
precedent carries in its genotype the problem and the solution. That 
is the logic of the precedent approach.

I personally work on the phase of problem definition in design and 
love my business. It makes the process and the outcome more 
predictable. In the design areas where the functional requirements 
are paramount, starting with an initial definition of the problem 
helps a lot, saves time and effort, and in the long run, brings 
better functional performance.

We are all designers, but we are also very different designers. I 
mean our substantive areas are different. Each substantive area has 
its own peculiarities in ontological and methodological aspect. 
(Forgive me for using these concepts here.) That makes the design 
process and method of a civil engineer very different form the 
process and method of the architect, and I bet, very different from 
the process of an illustrator.

Our common ground cannot be found at practice level. It cannot be 
found even at theoretical level. Our common ground is at 
philosophical level. If we want to talk one language, we need to 
discuss these issues at a very abstract level. We can say that there 
are general principles of design that apply to all design fields. But 
these general principles are so abstract that they never appear in 
their scholastic format in design practice and even at the 
theoretical levels of different design disciplines. These principles 
crystallize in their full beauty only when we talk at philosophical 
level about the planning and design approach (Gerals Nadler, 1981).

To be honest, at the beginning I was curious what is Terry doing when 
he asked that question about our disciplinary design affiliations. 
Now I might be interested more than him. Knowing each other 
background, it will be easier to figure out what the other colleague 
thinks and says, why that colleague thinks that way, and why he or 
she objects a particular concept.

Kind regards,

Lubomir

Lubomir Popov, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
School of Family and Consumer Sciences
309 Johnston Hall
Bowling Green, OH 43403-0059
phone: (419) 372-7935

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