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PHD-DESIGN  May 2019

PHD-DESIGN May 2019

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Subject:

Re: Help! Our field needs a new name: "Design" is far too misleading for much of what we do.

From:

jose luis casamayor <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Mon, 27 May 2019 11:41:23 +0000

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Dear Ken,



I did not want to publicly intervene, because probably the PhD-Design-forum is not the best place to discuss (in-depth) this issue, as this type of dicussions may (and usually) trigger many e-mails (with subsequent follow-ups); but the word 'design' is very clear to me, and i cannot see why we should change the definition.



Chemists, engineers, and many other professionals also design, but many 'designers' (and this is a problem we have) do not know this because they never have worked with, or read other disciplines, so i see this issue as an ignorance problem, not a 'design' definition problem!



Thanks for your patience taking the time to reply to some 'interesting' e-mails!



Best wishes,

Jose



________________________________

De: PhD-Design - This list is for discussion of PhD studies and related research in <[log in to unmask]> en nombre de Ken Friedman <[log in to unmask]>

Enviado: lunes, 27 de mayo de 2019 5:51

Para: [log in to unmask]

Asunto: Re: Help! Our field needs a new name: "Design" is far too misleading for much of what we do.



Dear Richard and Terry,



Here are 1) a response to Richard, 2) a question to the list



1) Richard, Thanks for your reply. While I understand better why you put forward your proposal, I nevertheless disagree. I don¡¯t see this as a reasonable way to delimit design.



The term design isn¡¯t attached to almost everything: the term design is defined by a purposeful human process that draws on the human propensity to plan and execute plans. Since this arises from a specific kind of action in the world, it doesn¡¯t apply to every human process, and it doesn¡¯t apply to the vast number of things in the universe. The fact that human action over the past ten thousand years has brought about significant change in those regions of the world where humans live, design and human action have indeed influenced almost everything that we touch, almost everything that surrounds us, and much of the world of which we do not think. (For example, the changing climate or the presence of plastics in the ocean.)



Buckminster Fuller (1969: 319) describes the [design] process in a model he labels the design science event flow. He divides the process into two steps. The first is a subjective process of search and research. In this sense, he uses the word design in its larger meaning, a meaning that accounts for the general human use of the design process, often in ordinary activities rather than professional practice. The second usage involves a generalisable process that moves from prototype to all the phases of production, distribution, use, and recycling. This usage generally involves professional design practice.



In the subjective process of search and research, Fuller outlines a series of steps:



teleology --> intuition --> conception -->

apprehension --> comprehension -->

experiment --> feedback -->



Under generalization and objective development leading to practices, he lists:



prototyping #1--> prototyping #2 -->

prototyping #3 --> production design -->

production modification --> tooling -->

production --> distribution -->

installation --> maintenance --> service -->

reinstallation --> replacement -->

removal --> scrapping --> recirculation



[Reference: Fuller, Buckminster. 1969. Utopia or Oblivion. The Prospects for Humanity. New York: Bantam Books.]



For Fuller, the design process is a comprehensive sequence leading from goal-oriented teleology to practice and finally to regeneration. This last step, regeneration, creates a new stock of raw material on which the designers may again act. While the specific terms may change for process design or service design, the essential concept remain the same. Many design fields use these steps. On what basis would one say that a field that works with this kind of even flow is not a design field?



If one uses a design in the general human sense of design, it may well be a design activity of some kind even though we don¡¯t need a professional term for the activity.



If one engages in the event flow from prototyping to recirculation, or a reasonable series of steps within that event flow, it is ¡ª in my view ¡ª a design process. If one engages in that design process on a professional basis, that is the nature of a design field. The fact that some of us don¡¯t consider the target activities of that field to be design is irrelevant.



In 1906 when Einstein published his article on the photo-electric effect ¡ª the discovery that won him his Nobel Prize ¡ª no one could have imagined any practical application of that discovery, not even Einstein. Today, the photo-electric effect is a commonplace tool in several design fields.



In 1906, we did not have the basic science leading to contemporary molecular biology. Today, human beings design parts of biological systems and move toward designing living creatures. (I am aware that I am not describing the true state of the field today. This is a short list post on design, not an abbreviated lecture on molecular biology, the current use of DNA, or any of the relevant issues.)



In 1935, we did not have the concepts or mechanisms to design any of the many things involved with contemporary computing, HCI, artificial intelligence, or the rest.



Today, people practice design within all these fields. Some of the design activity we practice in these fields fits Richard¡¯s earlier rough division of the world into things we can label with the word ¡°design¡±. But some seems to fall into the category of things that Richard claims we cannot call design, even if we actually practice design and design those things.



What do we call it when someone designs ¡ª plans and builds ¡ª a molecule that will fit a specific chemical receptor in the human organism for the purpose of improving human health? What do we call it when someone design ¡ª plans and builds ¡ª a more effective tax system?



Why would we wish to delimit design so that people who design books can use the term design while people who work to improve social systems cannot? What valid purpose would this serve?



You wrote one comment that still doesn¡¯t make sense to me: ¡°It would be preferable if we could say which prefixes ¡®design¡¯ could be attached to design and it still retains meaning. And it would be preferable if we could be certain some prefixes were meaningless. Do we allow ¡®writing design¡¯ (which I imagine could be using design methods to write texts?)¡±



It would be useful to see a clear statement of the issues. Once you begin to write on language and grammar, it helps to use the correct terms. The word ¡°writing¡± in this passage is not a prefix. It¡¯s an adjective. Once you clear that up, I find it hard to understand an argument such as, ¡°It would be preferable if we could say that some adjective cannot be used to modify the word ¡®design¡¯ and still remain meaningful. And it would be preferable if we could be certain that some adjectives are meaningless in this context.¡±



Given the nature of language, a large range of potentially meaningful adjectives can modify the word ¡°design¡±. I¡¯d have to think about what the term ¡°writing design¡± might be. There are several possible meanings. Compound terms such as ¡°strategic design¡±, ¡°fashion design¡±, ¡°interior design¡±, engineering design¡±, and more involve both the explicit defined meaning of the individual words and the contextual meaning that evolves through use in the field.



Richard, While I don¡¯t agree with you, I can see now why you are making the suggestion. Nevertheless, you haven¡¯t put forward an argument good enough to change my mind.



This proposal requires a better and more compelling argument if the entire field is to change its usage of the word design and the compound words and phrases we use today. A solid and joined-up argument becomes even more significant when you propose that we change the way the English language works when discussing design and the design field, and that¡¯s what you are proposing.



Then, someone would also need to do some serious work on what kind of taxonomy the new terminology requires. Many scientific organisations have working groups and large-scale committees that spend years examining the multiple issues involved in coining new terms or names within the disciplines they represent. For example, a debate on the term ¡°Anthropocene¡± has been going on for many years with formal study dating back at least a decade. In geology, the International Commission on Stratigraphy defines geological eras. The Commission appointed an Anthropocene Working Group of 34 scientists to study this question. Following lengthy study and an informal vote at the International Geological Congress in 2016, the group has made a recommendation that will be put forward for a formal vote in 2121.



https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01641-5 <https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-01641-5>



We have no such commissions or working groups ¡ª in fact, we couldn¡¯t assemble a committee of 34 senior scholars interested and willing to do this kind of work. I¡¯d be happy simply to see a serious literature review on the terminology of design to examine and summarise the published work on these issues of the past seventy years. So far, no one seems to want to spend the time doing a careful review of these questions. What happens is that someone pops up from time to time with a new proposal or suggestion and little inquiry based on earlier work. That¡¯s what I believe you¡¯ve done.



Everyone is free to offer an opinion on these issues. Once you make the claim that your opinion involves a serious scholarly or academic purpose such as delimiting disciplines, then the opinion you are free to offer requires a better argument than the mere statement that you hold the opinion.



Designers who work with public policy and public services in different ways all involve the kinds of issues for which this question is irrelevant. That¡¯s also the case for companies and organisations that work with design thinking as a method to address target problems of many kinds. I¡¯ll gather some resources on these kinds of design and post links to the list in the next few days.



2) Now, I have a question for other list members.



Do we need a new definition of the word design? Is the word ¡°design¡± misleading for what we d0? What about when we use the word ¡°design¡± carefully, with adjectives to afford distinctions?



It¡¯s likely that questions such as this are only relevant to researchers, academics, and to PhD students, much like the majority of subscribers to this list. It¡¯s always going to be impossible to hope that the general press and the ordinary speakers of any language use most terms carefully.



Even so, a new definition of design might serve useful purposes. If this is so, what purposes would a new definition serve?



I¡¯m curious to know whether anyone else thinks the question is important and why. Good definitions are useful and important. I¡¯m just not sure that we need a new definition for design, and I don¡¯t think that we should exclude new forms of design practice from our field.



Yours,



Ken



Ken Friedman, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hc), FDRS | Editor-in-Chief | Éè¼Æ She Ji. The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation | Published by Tongji University in Cooperation with Elsevier | URL: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/she-ji-the-journal-of-design-economics-and-innovation/ <http://www.journals.elsevier.com/she-ji-the-journal-of-design-economics-and-innovation/>



Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies | College of Design and Innovation | Tongji University | Shanghai, China ||| Email  [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> | Academia http://swinburne.academia.edu/KenFriedman <http://swinburne.academia.edu/KenFriedman> | D&I http://tjdi.tongji.edu.cn <http://tjdi.tongji.edu.cn/>









--



Ken Friedman, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hc), FDRS | Editor-in-Chief | Éè¼Æ She Ji. The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation | Published by Tongji University in Cooperation with Elsevier | URL: http://www.journals.elsevier.com/she-ji-the-journal-of-design-economics-and-innovation/



Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies | College of Design and Innovation | Tongji University | Shanghai, China ||| Email  [log in to unmask] | Academia http://swinburne.academia.edu/KenFriedman | D&I http://tjdi.tongji.edu.cn

















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