Design as Research

I cannot lie, this concept baffles me a little.

I think I am just used to thinking as design as something that decorates a surface. Can you tell that I am a textile designer? The print methods that we use in our practice are usually superficial, adding a layer of design onto pre-made fabric.

From reading Research Through Design: Twenty-First Century Makers and Materialities, I realised that design is so much more than decorating a surface. It has opened up my thinking about design a little more, which feels really exciting to me.

According to this article, research through design is a “practice-based inquiry that generates transferable knowledge.” Research has been associated with scientific processes and does not include the design influence in it.

Research through design, allows people to be more experimental, with more qualitative data being produced that quantitive. Of course, this can depend on the subject of the research, but just a generalisation of it. I think what I am trying to say is that using design in research, gives further depth to studies rather than numerical data.

Some of the examples included in this article show the diverse range of research methods you can use.

For example, Kristina Anderson and Dan Gibson decided to “find the connections between thinking and being.” They did this by reconstructing a cello and thinking about the modifications they could make on it at the same time. Another group made bowls by using the methods of each historical era!

I think this shows that data collection can be done through design methods and that scribe methods can include drawing, sketching, composition, knitting… The possibilities are endless!

I am a bit overwhelmed with this concept! I think I’ll need a little time to see how I can use this new creativity in research, in my own research.

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