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PHD-DESIGN  February 2017

PHD-DESIGN February 2017

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Subject:

Re: Epistemological Differences -- Research in an Academic Discipline vs. Research in a Professional Practice

From:

Francois Nsenga <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in Design <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:16:13 +0300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (58 lines)

Dear Ken, David, Terry and all

When, in the 70s-90s, the Paris (France)-based Centre Georges-Pompidou
Centre team of designers embarked on a new approach to  design research
(1), they didn't consider getting into large sampling, with the aim to
gathering the largest amount of 'ethnological' data prior to prescribing
the optimal criteria for artifact design. Rather, either themselves alone
(mall team of 3 or 5 designers) as 'participant observers', or eventually
with 5 to 10 individuals as representatives of users, examined main
features of a relatively small samples of existing artifacts selected out
of a given category of artifacts actually in use in specific
physico-socio-cultural contexts, also typified.

The  specifically set design research task was thus to devise ways to
improve certain features of a given physical artifact with the ultimate
purpose to perform its core raison d'ĂȘtre in physically the safest manner,
and providing more advantages over inevitable disadvantages in an optimal
way. For each sample artifact, five categories of users (not only end
users), were really observed manipulating the artifact each her/his own way
and in her/his real or closely simulated respective context of use. It is
out of such an observed or simulated performance that corresponding aspects
related  to safety, advantages and advantages in use of each sample
artifact were recorded, analysed, and compared, again with the ultimate
purpose to prescribe the optimal features of the optimal artifact to be
designed.

Alas this original and interesting epistemological approach to professional
research exclusive to designing practice has never been pursued since the
90s, as the Paris group was dismembered at the time. And no publication has
ever been issued on their work, neither by themselves nor by anyone else,
further to my succinct report referenced below.

As I always say, the closest I have seen thus far,  to "developing - the -
investigative methods and the techniques" evoked above, is the work done by
David Sless and his team at their Communication Institute. And no wonder
therefore I fully support their approach of 'small numbers' practical
observation, that I consider specific to our profession, purpose and
practice. Instead of large statistical generalizations of data and
conclusions, perhaps more appropriately needed to elaboration of
generalizable theories in other academic disciplines. The ultimate goal is
different for designing (or 'curing', referring to Ken's rapprochement
between design and edicine), and for merely theory building purpose in
standard academia.

Best regards,

Francois
Kigali

(1) The SIP System: A Design Research Concept at the Paris Centre
Beaubourg, 1973-1992. Design Issues, Jan. 1, 2010


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