"Research" in Design

Creasearching Creasearching

Lift10 is over and I finally found some time to work on my stack of books. Which lead me to this book that Lysianne gave me during the conference: Recherche-création en design. Modèles pour une pratique expérimentale. This book (only in French) is the final milestone in a swiss research project called "CreaSearch" that I discussed a while back. For English readers, some of the material covered in this book can also be found in "Creasearch - Methodologies and Models for Creation-based Research Projects in Design" (from the proceedings of the Swiss Design Network Symposium 2008) by Magdalena Gerber, Lysianne Léchot Hirt, Florence Marguerat, Manon Mello and Laurent Soldini.

The aim of this project is to discuss the different forms of "research" in arts and design practices out of commercial spheres: What's doing research when you are a designer working in an academic institution? How does (academic) designers' activities compare to researchers practices? Can research in the field of design go beyond new product development or sociological/aesthetic studies of designed artifacts? Is there a common thread between all the activities based on creating objects? Fueled by the current debate about doing research in arts and design schools, the questions addressed in the book echoes a lot with my current interest in design research.

In this research project, the authors defines the notion of "creation-research": "research activities, in design and in art, which incorporate the creation process (or the conception process) in a research process". They than maps how it is understood and practised in design/arts communities and to what extent it provides a pragmatic context for developing research models that are methodologically acceptable for designers focused on a creative activity and for the international design research community. As such, it sets off to propose an epistemology of design research by showing the specificity of the knowledge it can produce.

Exemplified by case studies, this proposition revolves around a methodological model for research creation projects in design that is copiously described in the project deliverables and the book. See for yourself:



Why do I blog this? This is an interesting framing to engage (or continue) the discussion about what is research in the field of design. I liked the way the authors did not fetishize too much the idea of a framework. The elements that are defined in the model above can be seen as heuristics, instead of a prescribed step-by-step process.

It's also interesting to compare the discussion about "research in design" with the current debate about "design research" and its role in new product development. The two are very distinct and emerges out of different constraints.