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Date:         Thu, 18 May 2000 19:25:00
Reply-To:     "Dr. Terence Love" <tlove@love.com.au>
Sender:       drs
From:         "Dr. Terence Love" <tlove@love.com.au>
Organization: Love Design and Research
Subject:      RE: Response to twelve points from Ken Friedman/
Content-type: multipart/mixed;

Dear Tim and Alec, , As you and others have pointed out, exploring research and designing indicates similarities and differences between them. This is not a new discourse, discussions about these similarities and differences have predated this thread by some years (see, for example, Cross1993). I suggest that the problem cannot be adequately addressed at this level of conceptualisation. It can, however, be fairly easily resolved (with both sides being 'correct') if it is addressed at a different epistemological level whilst shedding some of the traditional assumptions about designing. The approach I have in mind, is to deconstruct the concept of designing with the aim of identifying its core elements: an approach I have suggested several times before on this list in a variety of circumstances. This critical epistemological approach starts by stripping away all those aspects of the activity of designing that are already identified as part and parcel of other domains and disciplines. It continues by probing deeper into individual cognition than is usually undertaken in design research so as to analyse those areas of human functioning that precede conscious or rational thought. It is at this level of human funtioning that it is possible to start building coherent theories of design that take into account the psycho-neuro-biological aspects of human agency and action that underpin human creativity. It is at this level that it is possible to start to build coherent and well-justifiable design theory that addresses issues such as; codesigning, the social construction of design cognition, creative thought and action, the role of affect in designing, the impact of social, environmental and ethical factors on designing. In short, the whole gamut of factors that most design researchers regard as essential aspects of designing but which cannot be adequately addressed through superficial epistemological approaches that focus on the properties of designed objects, or the characteristics of external design processes. The outcome of this sort of deeper analysis is a move towards a definition of designing as a primary human activity that is conceptalised at a similar epistemological and physical level as thinking and feeling. This approach also points to a clearer focus for design research as a field. Using the above perspective, many of the apparent conflicts between researchin g and designing disappear - or rather the characterisation of their difference s is moved away from debates about designing . A new picture emerges with designing as a micro-creative act within a matrix of other activities. In this light, the designing vs. researching debate becomes rather symmetrical. On one hand, the activity of researching requires many of these micro-creativ e acts of designing supporting conscious rational thinking and decision-making activities that in turn support relatively routine activities - data gathering, writing etc. On the other hand, 'design processes' consist of these micro-creative design acts supporting conscious rational thinking and decisionmaking that in turn support routine activities such as data gathering, writing etc. This leaves designing and researching as very similar activities but defined differently in terms of their purposes and their routine activities, rather than whether they are (or are not) designing. The above approach to design research and building design theory offers a substantial number of benefits over other approaches. It allows the formation of coherent design theory that takes into account contemporary research about the human psycho-neuro-physiological functioning. It enables the field to move beyond the conceptual and terminological confusion that has occured as a result of a neglect of the underlying epistemological foundations of research and theory-making. It enables many other social, environmental and ethical factors that relate to designing to be included in design theories in a well-justified manner. It allows design research to better integrate conceptually with other disciplines - especially its natural partner, Futures Studies. Finally, it may help avoid the inappropriate inclusion of emotionally-based theories of affect in new design theories. I welcome comments and suggestions. Best wishes Terry ________________________ Dr. Terence Love Love Design and Research GPO Box 226 Quinns Rocks Western Australia 6030 Tel & Fax: +61 8 9305 7629 Email: tlove@love.com.au ________________________ References: Cross, N. 1993, 'Science and Design Methodology: A Review', Research in Engineering Design, vol. 5, pp. 63-69.

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