Innovation in knowledge exchange: an approach to the dissemination of research findings in support of design practice

2012-02-16T11:19:05Z (GMT) by Mark Evans James Self Hilary Dalke
The ability to embody design intentions is critical to an industrial designer’s studio practice. These design embodiments support both the exploration of the design problem and the emergence and communication of solution ideas. From the ever present design sketch through to 3D computer aided design and rapid prototyping technologies, an increasing variety of digital, analogue and hybrid design tools are employed in the embodiment of design proposals during practice. A literature review identified existing studies of the implicit characteristics of tool use during design activity. These characteristics where employed in the design of a survey study. The survey took samples from two distinct groups, industrial design practitioners and students. A total of 244 designers; 138 practitioners and 106 students, were surveyed. Findings indicated a tendency for student design activity to be characterised by strong convergence and less exploration, leading to early fixation and attachment to concept. This was in contrast to practitioner responses suggesting a more open, divergent and iterative approach. A concern for conventional research dissemination, articulated through conference papers and academic journals, to engage a practice orientated audience lead to the development of a digital resource (IDsite) to disseminate the survey findings. Work on the digital resource is ongoing; however the paper describes an interim pilot of the resource with a small sample of design practitioners. Findings suggest that, although the resource requires further development in terms of the presentation of information, practitioners consider the approach to be of relevance to the profession.