Week 15: Research Through Designing

This online session is designed to give you a taste of the variety of research we call ‘Research Through Design‘ – something you will explore next semester in ‘Interaction Design for Digital Civics’.

Two key readings for ‘Research Through Design’ are Christopher Frayling’s Research Through Art and Design and the lesser known (but equally important) piece by Bruce Archer on ‘The Nature of Research’.

Take a look at some of the videos of Christopher Frayling talking to Abigail Durrant about different aspects of Research Through Design, for Research Through Design Conference 2015. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6. Part 7.

Research Through Design is a biennial conference held in 2013, 2015, 2017 and the next will be in 2019. You can read more about the conference here.

Take a look at the Proceedings from the different conferences in the following links, and identify some articles which appeal to you:

2013 RTD Proceedings

2015 RTD Proceedings

2017 RTD Proceedings

Things to consider as you review this material:

  • How is ‘research’ configured in ‘Research Through Design’?
  • How does the output of ‘Research Through Design’ differ from other forms of output?
  • How do researchers employ ‘designerly thinking’ through this work?

from Goldsmiths Research Online

Alternative forms of output in ‘Research Through Design’ include ‘Design Workbooks’ – as written about by Bill Gaver, and Annotated Portfolios as written about by John Bowers. A way this has manifested is ‘Pictorial’ strands, which are tracks at the conferences ‘Designing Interactive Systems’ (DIS) & ‘Creativity & Cognition’ (C&C).

A final body of work I’d like you to consider for this week is of the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths, who are widely considered to produce ‘gold standard’ RtD work. Particularly notable work includes the Drift Table, The Photostroller, Indoor Weather Stations and The Datacatcher. If you visit their website you will also see they have utalised many forms of research dissemination, including pictorials and exhibitions.

The Datacatcher in particular has made extensive use of documentary film – which you can examine here.

Their most recent work is ‘ProbeTools‘ – open source tools to be used by design researchers. This has links with ‘Cultural Probes’ (and ‘Design Probes’) – which I believe were briefly mentioned by Simon last week. And this is where we start to make a connection with ‘Interaction Design Methods’…

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