Interaction design research

Reading "Interaction Design: Foundations, Experiments" by Lars Hallnäs,Johan Redström, I was quite fascinated by the chapter about methods concerning "interaction design research". Maybe it's because my research work is more and more linked to design. Some excerpts that I find relevant:

Is this science? Certainly not in the sense of natural science or in the sense of social science. It is simply not “knowledge production” (...) The idea of verifiable knowledge about the design process,validated models and working methods etc. is simply wrong here. It is a different situation, we find ourselves so to speak on the opposite side; in some sense it is research through defining in contrast to research through analytical studies. It is like the difference between studying how people open a certain door and experimenting yourself with different ways of opening that particular door. In both cases we could say that it is research in answering to a question about what it means to open the given door. In the first case it is important that your studies rely on sound methodology, as you presumably want to derive some general knowledge from your work. In the second case the situation is different. A good method for opening the door is what you want to find through your experiments. The aim is not to derive general knowledge about door opening practice, but to define, to suggest, a particular way of opening that door.

This said, the expected results also take a particular shape:

‘Results’ does not come in form of knowledge about things at hand, but in the form of suggestions for change of a present state, suggestions for a change in how things are done. ‘Results’ will here always refer to methods of practice in some sense;methods are in research focus. Suggestions of change will always refer to ‘new’ ways of doing things, it can be a matter of very specific methods,general guidelines, new programs for practice,new material to work with etc.

Why do I blog this? simply this help me making the difference between what designers wants (as opposed to what academic researchers do). Besides, it reminds of Jan Chipchase's presentation at EPFL who made the point that his work was no to produce facts but rather "informed opinions" that are employed as material for designing solutions.

It's interesting to see how the word "research" is definitely a boundary objects and refer to various meaning depending on the community of practice that employs it.