Lubomir asked, in answer to Frederick's "I'm making the case that
Research Through Design happens during all phases of design practice,
even if there is no dedicated research phase. The knowledge produced by
this type of research is not a set of requirements, but instead an
interpretation of new observations in face of previous experiences. It
can be made explicit on sketches or prototypes, but even if it's not,
it's still part of the design action in the world" the following
questions: "It is true that there are research acts through all design
phases. The question is what kind of research these acts exemplify? Do
we have the terminology to differentiate those types of research? "
There is one answer that might do ... the social, qualitative version of
grounded theory, not the scientific, number-crunching version that many
people take it to be (see Glaser). It follows the general design truism
that design understanding comes through design doing, i.e., act first,
and then analyse what happened. This "acting" is of course directed (in
a questing way) by a problem situation, one that seems to have no
immediate solution, and therefore no known requirements at the start
(john chris jones!). A grounded theory approach is then very much like
action research, that iterative methodology that can reveal what there
is to know, with the added advantage that the researcher (even student
researchers) can follow recognised research patterns that can explain
the narrative during and after all the evolving (and adapting) episodes
of "act first" ...
Johann van der Merwe
HOD: Research, History & Theory of Design
Faculty of Informatics and Design
Cape Peninsula University of Technology
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