Eva Brandt, Johan Redström, Mette Agger Eriksen, Thomas Binder

Research output: Book / Anthology / Report / Ph.D. thesisAnthologyResearch


Over the last decade Danish schools of design and architecture have
been embracing design research as a new venue for researchers,
design educators and designers. The schools have moved slowly from
the landscape of artisan professional educations towards a position
within the larger landscape of academia and university research and
education. Part of this movement has been concerned with adjusting
and adapting educational programs to the standards required for university
accreditation, exploring a.o. what it means to offer researchbased
education in design and architecture. Another part has involved
a search for the kind of research inquiries that can give designers and
design researchers a distinct and relevant voice in the larger choir of
academic research.
Research at design schools or research conducted by people with a professional
training in design or architecture is not necessarily different from research
of for example art history, media studies or anthropology. Nevertheless we
see new research topics and new research methodologies emerge as designers
begin to employ their professional gaze within the world of research.
Research-through-design, practice-based research or design-led research are
all among the new labels that characterize such research that strives to bring
design competencies into play in design research. This book comes out of the
XLAB project - one attempt to get hold of what such design research may be
and how it can contribute to the production of knowledge.
The XLAB project sought to capture design research and particularly
the design experiment not though a theoretical or methodological
approach, but through a practical exploration of the practice of design
researchers. Through a series of three one-day workshops, researchers
and research students where invited to share and discuss the ways
they each engaged with particular research topics. At the BEGINNINGS
workshop the emphasis was on how research is initiated, and
on what role programmatic considerations play in gaining momentum
4 xlab documenta 5
in design research. In part one of this book we present our understanding
of the dialectics of program and design experiment as we
have seen this evolve in our own work as in the work of the workshop
participants. At the PER:FORM workshop we staged a kind of metaexperiment,
where participants were invited to collaboratively design
a decision making device. This workshop aimed at creating a space for
experimentation that went beyond words, and engaged work practices
familiar to the professional designer. In part two of this book
we provide a glimpse of the meta-experiment through photos and
transcripts from the event, hopefully inspiring others to expand the
concept of designerly experimentation. Finally the INTERSECTIONS
workshop invited participants to rehearse peer readings of doctoral
dissertations in design research across a broad span of topics and
methodologies. In part three of this book we give an outline of how
such peer reading may be productive and stimulating for researchers
even when they adhere to quit different bodies of academic work. We
end the book in a conversation with four young design researchers
who represent the new generation of researchers coming out Schools
of design and architecture. We ask them how they see the role of
experimentation and what challenges they today see for the field of
design research.
Like the workshops this book does not attempt to give final answers or authoritative
arguments on how to conduct design research. Instead it represents
our attempt to contribute to research discourses that make us able to share
our thoughts and our experimental practice as we move ahead in our different
research projects. This raises the issue of form beyond conventional templates
of research dissemination. A grant from the Danish Center for Design Research
has made it possible for us to have an intense and innovative dialogue with
Mads Quistgaard and Stefan Thorsteinsson from the Graphic Design Studio,
Pleks, who have put their excellent skills in graphic design and visual communication
to the task of making a book that discloses and evokes rather than
argues and concludes. This should surely not be the only way to communicate
among design researchers, but we hope that the book brings together form
and content in ways that adds to the proliferation of formats needed to extend
and enhance the dialogue among research peers.
We are grateful to the many colleagues who took part in the XLAB
workshops and who have engaged us in discussion about experimental
design research. We are also thankful for the support and patience
of the Danish Center for Design Research in funding the workshops
and the production of this book. The responsibility for the result is on
our shoulders, but we hope that the book adds to the testimony that
design research today is a vibrant field that is about to find its place in
the larger landscape of academic research.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDenmark
PublisherThe Danish Design School Press
Number of pages180
ISBN (Print)978-87-92016-24-3
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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