Passion is a hard one. It's easy to jump into assuming a simple picture with
a range of behaviours misinterpreted as 'passionate' - usually via
reinterpreting the object of the activity or associated activities.
Some key fundamentals of research into design and making up useful design
theory are precision, accuracy, correctness of argument and unambiguity. One
core principle is avoiding hidden assumptions that a concept is one thing
when it means many different things.
Passion is a case in point.
Sometimes, it's easy to confuse passion with persistence, other times with
patience. Many times the concept of passion is confused with other things.
One of the confounding misunderstandings is it is usually believed to be a
The word and idea of passion in design is often carelessly used to represent
many other activities and ideas that would be better written about in theior
Fear of alternatives
Lack of awareness of alternatives
Sublimation (as in sex)
Lack of knowledge
Lack of will (as in lack of managed control of one's attention)
Unbalanced understanding of reality
Romantic baby making behaviour
Misdirected emotional response
High energy output (well directed or misdirected)
Behaviours driven by a weak sense of reality
A further problem is the idea of passion means and has different
significances depending on individuals' personal development. Early on in an
individual's development, what is referred to as 'passion' is commonly
simply a high-energy obsessive response to conditioning or a high-energy
habituated reflex response driven by prior events.
In terms of sound creative behaviour, the activities commonly called
passion are usually unhelpful - in contrast to (say) the spontaneous
creativity that comes from willed attention and awareness, directed
connection to subconscious, and patience and persistence managed with
awareness - which are usually more accurately described in such terms rather
In terms of research literature, this is well documented in Persian and
Indian writing about consciousness. It is also echoed in Illich, Postman
(amusing ourselves ), Berger, Lessing (Sentimental Agents and Marriages) -
there's a long list.
Just two penneth.
From: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related
research in Design [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Chris
Sent: Tuesday, 24 February 2009 6:12 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
I wonder if anybody can point us to research that explores or uses the idea
of passion in designing and making or any other field of activity?
We have been discussing this is a number of contexts, but particularly
learning, and it seems self-evident that something that we might recognise
as passion informs people who are prepared to commit themselves to difficult
work and arduous tasks. We have also been speculating that this quality
might be more easily seen in more mature people. Perhaps teenagers generally
seem to be more concerned about conformity whereas passion seems to imply a
degree of individualism, a willingness to go further than others in pursuit
of an individual goal.
If so that might have some implications for how we support young people
entering university education. (As the father of a teenager I find this a
particularly pointed question)
Our debate is prompted by a colleague, Bernd Ploderer visiting us from
Melbourne University, whose research explores body builders as an
interesting online community. He has concluded that "passion" is the best
way to describe the motivation that brings somebody to engage in
all-consuming training and undertake activities that risk their health in
order to achieve a particular kind of competitive perfection. We also felt
that a similar (maybe less extreme) passion distinguishes learners who will
keep experimenting and perfecting their work as a way of refining their
skills and knowledge. Ironically young children have a natural talent for
great concentration, repeating tasks endlessly to master them but we seem to
lose that focus as we get into our later childhood.
I'm not sure that passion has figured so much in concepts of designing,
which we often discuss in quite functional ways, but I'd be glad to be
So any sources out there that might show us a way in to this subject?
thanks very much
(with Nicola Wood and Bernd Ploderer)
Professor Chris Rust FDRS
Head of Art and Design Research Centre
Sheffield Hallam University, S1 2NU, UK
+44 114 225 6772
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Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future
of the human race. - H. G. Wells