In case you are still reading. Of course there is a spectrum of quality in
the design and design research literature.
That was not what I was referring to. You seem to be suggesting I was being
insulting. Not so,and I apologise if this seemed like what I was saying. My
intention was to be specific about particular general aspects of the
literature in terms of being a body of well=developed and justified causal
I'd thought the general state of the theory literature of Design was
self-evident but obviously not. Previously I have documented some of the
problems with the design literature in detailr on the basis of a review of
around 1000 publications and also included references to others who have
done similar analyses and come to similar conclusions (see below*).
It seemed to me that, however, is not needed, and simple inspection was
Currently, by observation, the literature has little agreement on the
details of the essential concepts and processes such as 'design',
'thinking', 'creativity', 'design decision making', 'design communication',
'function', 'artefact', 'design research' , 'use', 'design as a
discipline', 'intuition', 'design outcomes', 'design automation', 'agency',
'role of design' , 'designer' to think of the first concepts that come to
mind. In general, again by observation, descriptions of these concepts in
the design literature are not specific definitions.
There also seems to be only very limited theory agreement (and very little
theory) on the detail of causal explanation of how processes central to
design occur - such as 'how knowledge of contextual factors causes
particular ideas for design solutions to occur to a designer'. By
observation, the limited number of theories that attempt to provide
explanations of the detailed causal relationships in core activities of
design seem to typically describe the relationships in associative terms
and without significant detailed justification. There appear to be, however,
a large number of texts in which the causal relationships are speculated.
This seems to imply that, in general, the state of play of theoretical
development in the literature of the field of design is much as I described
it, and as I found in earlier reviews of the literature. It may be I'm
wildly mistaken. As must be obvious, I'm making these judgements only on
reading a sample of the texts, but it's a reasonably sized sample of a few
There are many examples of excellent analyses and theory proposals in the
In spite of them, it still appears to me the general state of the literature
of the Design field in terms of a solid comprehensive universally-agreed
body of good quality causal theory explanations about the processes
underpinning how design occurs is significantly incomplete
An example of a text that sets a benchmark for theory development of basic
concepts in Design is Houkes and Vermaas (2010) Technical Functions. On
the Use and Design of Artefacts, Springer.
If you, or anyone else, feels I am mistaken in my judgements, I would be
grateful if you would post citation details of texts that are of the same
kind of quality of conceptual and analytical precision in respect of theory
as Houkes and Vermaas' text.
I would be delighted to read them.
Previously, I'd documented problems with the literature of design with
explanations and references to other who had come to the same conclusions
Love, Terence (2005) A unified basis for design research and theory, in
International Design Congress - IASDR 2005: New Design Paradigms, Douliou,
Taiwan, 2005. International Association of Societies of Design Research,
Love, T. (2000). Philosophy of Design: a Meta-theoretical Structure for
Design Theory. Design Studies, 21(3), 293-313
Love, T. (1998). Social, Environmental and Ethical Factors in Engineering
Design Theory: a Post-positivist Approach. Perth, Western Australia: Praxis
Ken Friedman has also several times commented similarly on this list and it
is implicit in e.g. Friedman, K. (2005) Reference and Citation in Design
Research, Research Writing Workshop, Third International Conference on
Design Research, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October.
Agreement is also in comments such as
<Tim> 'It's recently been asserted here that ... "We have a big, pretty
messy literature about design activities that is pretty much broad brush
and guesswork"' ....
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