Dear Martin and David,
You asked me to provide some arguments as to why university Design schools
in the Art and Design tradition are likely to become scientific?
The answer to your question is longer than I expected. I realise some of
what I've written some people may disagree strongly. If so, I'd like to know
the opposing evidence.
I welcome your comments.
One way of looking at why university design schools will become more
scientific is to observe that it has already happened but the culture of
romantic traditionalism and habits of individualist hero-worship in the
field have blinded people from seeing it.
I suggest that very little designing is done by individuals. That in
reality, most designing is computerised and automated and most design
practice skills are reduced to choosing between options in software
Already there can be seen two agendas in university design schools: research
whose outcomes for the future are as resource to support the creation of
automated easy to use design software that produces high quality
professional design outputs for individual designers with lower design
skills, and education in 'design practice' that comprises formally training
designers to use automated design software such as Photoshop. Practice-led
design research contributes to the first agenda.
Viewing science as 'systematized knowledge as a subject of study'; both of
the above agendas of university design schools can be seen as being
essentially already 'scientific'.
Some points that support the above are:
. Over the last three decades, designers have been learning the same
small set of simplistic design methods. In this time, however, the 'hidden'
use of design methods by designers has increased thousands fold. This is
because, rather than teach designers design methods; it has been enormously
more successful to embed the products of design research as automated design
methods in the software that designers use.
. It has become more effective and improved design outputs to place
most of the creativity of design activity in the hands of the computer and
its artificial intelligence rather than have human designers be creative.
. These approaches have been successful. Over the last 20 years,
design practices in the Art and Design school traditions have improved about
800% in productivity with massive improvements in the quality of output of
designers. This is primarily a result of PhDs in Design and design research
in general. You can test the figures easily by reflecting on how long tasks
took 20 years ago and how long they take now. Think for example of making a
slide show of images that zoom, fade and sweep across the screen. Twenty
years ago it would have taken several days and today it takes minutes.
Twenty years ago, very few graphic designers or photographers would have
been capable of doing it. Now any graphic designer training at secondary
school can do it - and to a professional standard.
. Most design methods are almost completely automated to the point
that the designer has only to select the result from a range of choices.
Nowadays, almost all the design methods used by designers are used tacitly
and unconsciously and exactly as prescribed (because there is no other
possibility) rather than intentionally or by 'dialogue with the method'.
Computerized automated 'hidden' design methods now comprise almost 100% of
the design methods used by designers. Very little design is done by the
designer using design methods themselves.
. Part of the problem in seeing design practice and design research in
this way is the naivety and selfishness in people's thinking by which they
presume the benefits of a PhD should go primarily to the person undertaking
it. It is not obvious why this should be seen in this way. Each PhD
typically costs society between $500,000 and $1m. In public institutions, a
large portion of this is paid out of the public purse. It would be expected
that whilst a PhD candidate gets their training to qualify as a doctor, the
outcome of the PhD should contribute usefully to a value of at least the
cost of the PhD to the public good. Many national governments are
legislating that PhDs have to contribute to the national good if they are
funded from national budgets. Bryn Tellefsen and I researched this in 2000
and the findings were published in a special edition of IJDST edited by
David and Ken in 2002 (Tellefsen & Love, 2002).
. It has not yet become part of the public awareness for us as design
researchers, PhD candidates and designers to realise that the primary
benefit and outcome of design research is as knowledge to support better
performing computerised designing machines; rather than skills for
individual 'craft' designers (whose work is increasingly computerised). Most
design work is being done by the automated computerised systems drawing on
the knowledge gained via design research and that the main role of designers
is increasingly that of managing automated computerised design processes
such as those of Adobe, SolidWorks, AutoCAD etc.
Some of the above is discussed in Love(Love, 2006).
One way of seeing the current enthusiasm for what we call 'design practice'
is a special political code that is intended to exclude most of what happens
in design activity in order to reify what some of us enjoy as a pleasurable
game, and at the same time to define a closed group of individuals who are
the only group 'qualified' to undertake this 'design practice'. By
implication, the overall aim is gaining additional access to privilege,
status, access to resources and a nice pleasurable game playing job for this
exclusive group of individuals. Developing a practice-based/led PhD can be
seen as part of this agenda.
An additional historical reason to support the conjecture that Design
fields in Art and Design are likely to become more scientific is that all
the other design fields that I can think of outside Art and Design have gone
down this path. Many of those fields such as Engineering design and
Typography design were initially strongly aesthetic rather than scientific.
The main advantage of the scientific approach seems to be that it produces
better quality designed outcomes. Design fields in Art and Design are
already a long way down the same path to science.
Love, T. (2006). A Systems Analysis of the Problem of Professional Practice
in Design: "Why Mac Computer Systems Reduce Creativity and Inhibit Quality
Improvement of Novel Innovative Design" - Plenary. In E. Corte-Real, K.
Friedman & T. Love (Eds.), WonderGround, Designing interdisciplinary
discourse, conspiring for Design Leadership, Design Research Society
International Conference 2006 Proceedings Book. Lisbon, Portugal: IADE -
Instituto Artes Visuais Design Marketing. A pre-print can be found at
Tellefsen, B., & Love, T. (2002). Doctoral Research in Design: The Future
of the Practice-based Doctorate. International Journal of Design Science and
Technology, 10(2), 45-59.
On 14 Aug 2009, at 12:15 pm, Martin Salisbury wrote:
> Dear Terence
> Could you just run me through why it is now the turn of the Art and
> Schools to become science schools?
Yes, I am curious to know that too!
David Durling FDRS PhD http://durling.tel