More Discussion About Evidence-Based Design – post by healthcare design consultant Sara Marberry is a recap of a discussion among design experts about what it means for architects to be involved in design research. In addition to encouraging schools to prepare students for working in an evidence-based design environment, they describe what research is and why they believe it’s such a vital element in the design process.
Designers design; they don’t do research. At least this was the case until about a decade ago, when it became noticeable that the conception of design as research influenced projects other than those in technology and history. Rather than engage in research, designers long preferred to focus on their creative process. While they certainly embraced the systematic process of research with its constraints, hypotheses, experiments, and evaluations, they viewed research as secondary to imaginative thinking, the unsystematic process at the heart of creativity. But recently, there has been a change. Designers are finding that a conception of their work as research may enrich the creative process not limit it. Research has changed the design team, transformed constraints into advantages, and expanded the definition of a design project to include more than interiors, buildings and contexts.
For more on the research side, check out organizations like Design Research Institute and Design Research Society. A presentation from University of the Arts in Bremen, Germany – Designing a Methods Platform and Toolbox for Design and Design Research – has charts and diagrams. Here are two books from Birkhauser: Design Research Now and Mapping Design Research (both here via Scribd., but also see their site) and an forthcoming series from Ashgate, Design Research in Architecture. The Design Management Institute tends to focus on management in a design environment but also publishes a bit on design research.