An exploration of the roles values play in design decision-making

2011-02-09T09:23:19Z (GMT) by Rhoda Trimingham
The overall aim of the thesis is to explore the role of values within design decision-making. The research is carried out within a context of sustainable design, specifically the use of recycled materials. The literature and pilot studies highlighted the nature and role of values in design decision-making. These include the observation that stakeholder values are different from societal values, that designers have an internal perception of external values (or that they make decisions 'on behalf of external influences), and that designers use 'meta-values' (a sub-set of internal values) to organise their activity. The main body of the research includes a series of nine case studies using retrospective interviews and concurrent verbalisation and protocol analysis. Previous research suggested that a designer's values can be researched through looking at their visual representations. This was investigated through an analysis of participants design work. A taxonomy was explored and evidence sought to validate the categories of values influencing industrial design decision-making. Key findings show that values embedded in design, initially considered an external value, could also be an internal value, as designers use these principles to embed value into their designs. It was also found that the choice to be influenced by one set of values and not another, can differ from project to project. The changing role of values in relation to design expertise was explored and, in contradiction to the prior art, there was little evidence that distinguished the influence of values between novices and experts. A primary research output is the development of a new taxonomy, which divides the values influencing industrial design decision-making into external values and internal values. (Continues...).