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Entwined approaches: integrating design, art and science in design research-by-practice

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conference contribution
posted on 2013-08-16, 13:31 authored by Rachel Philpott
Drawing on experience gained through a recently completed practice-led PhD project in textiles this paper considers the importance of evolving design research methodologies that integrate the intuitive, creative and poetic approaches prevalent in professional design practice with more quantifiable academic research methods. The paper explores the relationship between scientific and artistic approaches in practice-led design research and possible means by which they can be balanced in order to accurately reflect both the technological and poetic aspects of such research. This paper surveys existing discourse originating from studies of design practice, particularly regarding ‘thinking-in-action’ (Harrison, 1978; Schön, 1995; Cross, 2007; Pallasmaa, 2009), ‘productive science’ (Buchanan, 2007; Tooming Buchanan, 2010) and active documentation of studio practice (de Freitas, 2002). However, influential debate on the subject is not limited to the discipline of design. The paper also discusses how a multi-perspectival approach and the use of multi-strand methodologies originating from the social sciences (Richardson, 2000; Denzin & Lincoln, 2008) have been applied in a specifically textile design research context. This paper, illustrated by examples drawn from the project, explores the potential of an integrated approach using a ‘bricolage’ of methods (Kincheloe, 2001) to produce original research outputs that address both theoretical and practical questions, allowing for investigation of the metaphysical, the emotional and the imaginative alongside the technical.



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PHILPOTT, R., 2012. Entwined approaches: integrating design, art and science in design research-by-practice. IN: Proceedings of the Design Research Society Conference (DRS 2012)- Re:Search: uncertainty, contradiction and value, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, 1 - 5 July 2012, 16 pp.


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The Design Research Society (DRS) conference in Bangkok addressed notions of ‘Re:Search : uncertainty, contradiction and value’ in contemporary design research, education and/or practice. This paper, which addresses the integration of interdisciplinary practice and theory in design research, is of particular relevance to the ‘Special Interest Group on Experiential Knowledge’, which is concerned with the understanding and role of knowledge in research and professional practice in design in order to clarify fundamental principles and practices of using design practice within research.


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