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Ways of Drifting – 5 Methods of Experimentation in Research through Design



Design experiments are claimed to be a core means of inquiry in the research tradition of research-through-design. However, it is rarely articulated how the experiments were carried out in order to test a hypothesis, to begin a fruitful journey into unexplored design terrain or just gradually build knowledge. On the basis of the analysis of ten PhD theses we provide a typology comprised of five forms of design experiments in research-through-design. This provides a general outline of the characteristics which point to the methodological roles that design experiments and design work may acquire in research-through-design. Our typology of design experiments in research-through-design accounts both for relations between major cases and iterations embodied in detailed sketches and prototypes. The purpose of the typology is to provide an overview that respects and account for the less-than-ideal way design research actually happens: process-loops where hypothesis, experiments, and insights concurrently affect one another and result in a drift of research focus and continued adjustment of experiments to stabilize the research endeavour.
Peter Gall Krogh
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Ways of Drifting 5 Methods of Experimentation in
Research through Design
Peter Gall Kroghͣ, Thomas Markussenb, Anne Louise Bangb,
aPlatform REform, Aarhus School of Architecture, Aarhus, Denmark
bDesign School Kolding, Kolding, Denmark
Abstract: Design experiments are claimed to be a core means of inquiry in the research tradition of
research-through-design. However, it is rarely articulated how the experiments were carried out in
order to test a hypothesis, to begin a fruitful journey into unexplored design terrain or just gradually
build knowledge. On the basis of the analysis of ten PhD theses we provide a typology comprised
of five forms of design experiments in research-through-design. This provides a general outline of
the characteristics which point to the methodological roles that design experiments and design
work may acquire in research-through-design.
Our typology of design experiments in research-through-design accounts both for relations between
major cases and iterations embodied in detailed sketches and prototypes. The purpose of the
typology is to provide an overview that respects and account for the less-than-ideal way design
research actually happens: process-loops where hypothesis, experiments, and insights concurrently
affect one another and result in a drift of research focus and continued adjustment of experiments
to stabilize the research endeavour.
Keywords: Research-through-design, Methods, Experiments
1 Introduction
Research-through-Design (RtD) is increasingly practiced across engineering-informed
and artistic-based design research. Classical processes of research regard “drifting” as a
failure since measures and grounds of evaluation can be said to be in flux. In design,
however, “drifting” is a quality measure as it tells the story of a designer capable of
continuous learning from findings and of adjusting causes of action. Design Research
that does not account for this professional hallmark will fail to gain respect from or build
a better basis for design practice. Tolerance of “drifting”, however, points to a built-in
dilemma of Design Research and, in particular, RtD when sharing knowledge across
research disciplines: to what degree can one trust the results of RtD?
Based on 10 exemplary and well-cited PhD theses developed in environments
emphasizing artistic quality we describe continued design experimentation in processes
Peter Gall Krogh, Thomas Markussen, Anne Louise Bang
of research, and how such chains of experimentation and sketching follow a
methodological rigor and how it can be modelled. The selected theses have been
developed and written in the Dutch-Scandinavian-Anglo-Saxon tradition and submitted
for evaluation in art schools, universities and academies exemplifying the heterogeneity
of design research in this tradition. The theses represent the full spectrum of the Lab,
Field, Showroom” taxonomy described by Koskinen et al. Thus the selected theses also
exhibit the full spectrum of classical research traditions though they are committed to
aesthetic and artistic assessments in design and design research.
Maturation of the theoretical foundation of RtD provide grounds for better-designed
research projects and programs. Such work will also help declare the qualities, strengths
and weaknesses of RtD in the general landscape of research approaches facilitating
interfaces to other research disciplines without adopting a whole set of theories
developed in classical research areas and enable design researchers’ participation in the
language game of research across other disciplines.
This paper is intended in particular to help PhD candidates and applicants, assessors
of applications and PhD supervisors in RtD. Although not complete, the typology we
present offers a perspective on how case design, actual design work and exploratory
sketching as knowledge-building activities can be better substantiated, declared and
delimited in the early phases of research work and descriptions. The typology we present
is comprised of five forms of design methodologies that we have labelled accumulative,
comparative, serial, expansive and probing.
In this paper we are concerned with the actual internal work activities of RtD
processes designing stuff. We are concerned with how the work itself can be said to
exhibit the essential transparency of research, rather than how described knowledge
flows in communities and is used to substantiate a research contribution. Thus we are
dealing with building and sustaining the trustworthiness of results developed by the
single design researcher adopting the RtD methodology, and not how others build upon
the generated knowledge.
2 Related work
RtD is coming of age and numerous researchers have made great and valuable efforts in
describing and establishing the foundational theories, methods and approaches of the
research area [e.g. 1, 7, 13, 18, 22, 33, 33, 34].
Although many of the fundamentals of the research area are well described they also
impact different research communities with limited overlap, and yet lack the
pervasiveness that research fundamentals need in order to work on equal grounds with
other research disciplines and traditions. In recent times there have also been suggestions
of using endless and inconsistent prepositions in order to distinguish the methodological
role of design experiments from other more established research methodologies [31].
Thus, research through design has been defined as different from “research on design”,
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“research into design”, “research in design, “research for design” and “research by
design” [29]. As the expanded use of prepositions has only led to obscuring the
understanding of RtD, Koskinen et al. [19] has recently argued for settling on the term
“constructive design research” as the fundamental epistemology. However we will, for
the sake of clarity in tradition, stick to the use of “Research-through-Design” (RtD) as
conceptualizing research done by means of the skilful practice of design activity
revealing research insights.
2.1 On the details of working in RtD
In RtD and the definition of its foundations there appear to be two major strands: one that
defends the specificity and, compared to other research disciplines, capacity to deliver
results that one does not find in other fields e.g. Cross [7], Gaver [16], Seago & Dunne
[27] and, to some extent, Zimmerman & Forlizzi [33]. The second strand models the
foundations of design research upon already identified research traditions, notably the
natural sciences, social sciences and art e.g. Koskinen et al. [18] and Steffen [30].
By the work we present here, we argue that a proper account of the fundamentals of
RtD must begin with a close scrutiny of design experiments. In so doing, we agree on the
one hand with Gaver and others that this is a prerequisite for acknowledging the
specificity of RtD. But, on the other hand, we agree with Koskinen et al., insofar as we
argue that we should be careful not to put so much emphasis on its specificity that its
possible cross-disciplinary connections and exchanges with other forms of research are
lost. This can be avoided if we use the classical vocabulary of research (hypothesis,
motivation, research question, experiment), in the development of a methodological
explanation of design experiments.
When examining the existing research literature, one is left empty handed when
searching for detailed accounts of the process and basic constituents of design
experiments. Zimmerman and Forlizzi (2008) attempt to develop a formal account of
methods used in RtD and suggest that a foundational distinction should be made between
two different methodological approaches: (i) a philosophical approach, where researchers
wish to “investigate a previously articulated theory through a process of making” (e.g.
‘ludic interaction’, ‘rich interaction’, ‘aesthetics of interaction’, etc.); and (ii) a grounded
approach, where researchers focus “on real-world problems by making things that force a
concrete framing of the problem”. However, such a meta-level classification is too
abstract, and it does not provide insight into how design practice and experiments are
used in either of these approaches.
In order to align the methodological foundation of RtD with the practices of
professional design Brandt and Binder [5] suggested that design experiments in design
research can be better understood as being framed by a “program” and aresearch
question”. In so doing Brandt and Binder assume that RtD can be modelled on the same
conditions as a design project where a program or brief is typically used by a client to
formulate an assignment for a professional designer. While Brandt and Binder expend
Peter Gall Krogh, Thomas Markussen, Anne Louise Bang
much effort in defining the notion of the program and research question, they end up
saying surprisingly little about the design experiments themselves.
In the 2012 paper by Bang et al. [3] it is argued that it is counterproductive to the
development of RtD to use concepts from outside research to define its foundations and it
is more beneficial to provide an account of the knowledge production of the field based
on established concepts e.g. hypothesis, experiment, evaluation while declaring how and
to what extent design work is similar to and different from more classical scientific
disciplines. Such differences are also dealt with in Redströms paper “Some notes on
program/ experiment dialectics” [25] in which he discusses how design research has a
nature of drifting that in other research disciplines would be regarded as watering down
the research contribution. Traditionally, in science literature, drifting is regarded as
bearing the touch of randomness, the uncontrolled, illogical and inconsistent. However,
in design research and in particular the professional practice of design, drifting or
pursuing alternative opportunities in the vicinity of ones work is an embedded way of
arriving at relevant and high quality work. The work we present in this paper is very
much in line with these concerns. However, we argue for maintaining the use of classical
terms, as they are sufficiently spacious to accommodate the way RtD develops
Furthermore there is a slight tendency in design research to also be mostly interested
in the final product of a design case. However, in line with Bowers and Gaver [4] we
believe it can be of even more importance to declare how one got there how the design
project drifted through and gained insights unintended by its original pursuit and what
knowledge one developed doing so. In line with [16, 18] it is our point of departure that
knowledge production in design and RtD can be characterized as fallibalistic. As such
any sketch is a question examining parts or the whole of a provisional hypothesis, not in
a Popperian sense where a hypothesis is substantiated or falsified, but in a Piercean
manner qualitatively informed or questioned through “abductive reasoning” [24] or “bold
suggestions” which design experiments and sketches can be characterized as. According
to Brandt and Binder [5] experiments in research-through-design are examinations of
questions residing in research programs. As such Brandt and Binder do not relate their
framework to hypothesizing and accept design research is also a way of describing the
urge to explore an interesting concept without a well-defined hypothesis. Bang et al. [3]
formulate the act of hypothesizing as a fruitful and “direction-providing” activity in
design. Whereas the work of Zimmerman [33] articulates design research as being
theoretically, technically or empirically inspired, Bang et al. [3] follows the line of
Brandt and Binder [5] and Zimmerman et al. [34] in voicing the need to include
aesthetically and artistically inclined research interests.
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3 Typology
As stated in the beginning of the paper, the purpose here is to provide design researchers
an extended footing when participating in the language games of research in general. At
the same time the intention is to avoid losing the specificity and unique quality thay
design research has to offer in research in general and society as a whole.
Building on the work of Bang et al. [3] we present a typology depicting how discreet
but linked experimental activities in RtD can be described in terms of how they facilitate
building knowledge by acting in combination. The classical foundational activity of
design is “sketching”. It is the dominant means by which ideas are described and
evaluated for their quality and appropriateness in responses to a design challenge.
Sketches are a (materialized) means for dialogue between the designer and her design
challenge. Sketches also act as boundary objects for the designer and stakeholders in a
design process [8, 20, 28]. Sketches can be temporal materializations of ideas subject to
rapid changes, incremental as well as radical changes; sketches can also be
materializations of ideas of parts of a whole. As this indicates, experimentation in design
research is often intimately linked to evaluation not necessarily formal and thorough
evaluation but at the level of sanity checking. There is no second sketch without even the
most rudimentary, theoretical, experiential or aesthetically inclined evaluation of the first.
It is, however, beyond the scope of this paper to go deeper into discussing evaluation in
Processes of development through design and its constituent parts can be likened to
babushka dolls, onion layers, ontologies of ideas, free streams of associations, arguments
of logic etc. Although such descriptions carry a lot of experiential power when teaching
design students the practice of design, it provides little help in enabling research peers
from different scientific backgrounds understand the benefits and possibilities for co-
research. Along these lines, Gaver [16] argues for annotated portfolios as tool for
connecting design artefacts to theoretical concerns and design values across the domain
and use of artefacts.
Bang et al. [3] describe a model of how experimentation is the cogwheel of RtD in
dialogue with research activities such as hypothesizing, theorizing etc. We build on this
model and provide a typology of experimentation in RtD. The model is derived from the
analysis of ten theses (Dindler, Busch, Niedderer, Worbin, Trotto, Ross, Fogtmann,
Frens, Borup, Bang) and in particular their reporting on design experimentation. The
selected theses have a cultural bias towards the Dutch-Anglo-Saxon-Scandinavian
approach, thus other traditions might challenge and extend the typology.
The typology describes five distinct methods of knowledge production through
design experimentation: Accumulative, Comparative, Serial, Expansive and Probing
(Table 1). Furthermore, Table 1 includes a graphical representation of each of the
methods by characteristic keywords, a graphical model and author names of PhD theses
that exemplify the methodology. All the presented methods allow fordrifting
Peter Gall Krogh, Thomas Markussen, Anne Louise Bang
although to a varying degree. The first category “accumulative” is the least forgiving and
“probing” allows for the largest degree of “drifting”.
Table 1 Table of typology
Graphic model
Depth, stacking
Acknowledging complexity
Systematising local knowledge
Broadening, extending
Dindler, Trotto
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Illogical, artistic, impact
Busch, Worbin
3.1 Accumulative
This method of experimentation can be found in the work of Frens [14]. His design
experiments study how tangible interaction might enhance the experience of using a
The design sketches and models are focused on testing specific parts and wholes and
are carried out in closed lab settings where the design experiments are evaluated for their
cognitive qualities, rather than contextual appropriateness. The work shares many
learning and experimental similarities with what happens in technical lab settings where
one particular thing is studied, and potentially disturbing elements are excluded for the
sake of clarity and rigor in the study. What the study loses in relevance it gains in depth
of knowledge on the particular. We use characterizing keywords “depth” and “stacking”
to describe the design and experimental interest; the increasing depth of knowing derived
from every experiment is iteratively build (layered, stacked) into the next generation of
the same version of the camera, a way of stacking knowledge where the final artefact
embodies the total knowledge accumulated through the RtD process.
3.2 Comparative
The method of comparative experimentation can be found in the work of Fogtmann [11]
and Ross [26]. They both explore their subject by means of a number of design cases
working from or towards a shared platform of comparison. Whereas Ross is interested in
ethical and aesthetic aspects of interactive products (in particular lamps) Fogtmann
describes the concept Kinaestetic Empathy Interaction (KEI) through a series of design
cases each highlighting distinct and overlapping qualities of KEI. The reason for using
the experimental method is in both theses to do case- relevant explorations, which cover
areas and aspects not yet dealt with in other experiments and to incorporate knowledge
from previous experiments. The method may comprise one central design case tried out
in a range of contexts or a set of different design cases tried on both identical and
different contexts. It may also comprise iterative versions of the same concept changed
according to context. The basic approach is that each design experiment should reveal as-
yet undocumented additional qualities of a concept and confirm some previously found
qualities. In totality, the comparative experiments ideally describe a novel concept,
qualify phenomena or add a theoretical distinction to known theory. A characterizing
keyword in this model is “acknowledging complexity”, which expresses the idea that the
design experiments explore the concept by pointing to how it is embedded in a
Peter Gall Krogh, Thomas Markussen, Anne Louise Bang
multiplicity of situations. Furthermore the method reveals that a lot of experimental
design work done will not necessarily find its way into knowledge production.
3.3 Serial
The method of serial design experimentation denotes how design experiments are being
carried out in a certain order or logic of locality determined by how neighbouring
experiments in a sequence influence one another.
Complementing the comparative method, knowledge production in the serial method
is achieved on the basis of insights gained into the relationships between design
experiments that proceed chronologically. In the work of Lynggaard [21] we find each
successive experiment is framed on the basis of its predecessor. Each stage generates
insights or raises questions that lead the work onward. These pointers provide large and
small contributions to the overarching interest in “homing tactics”. More specifically, on
the basis of ethno-methodological studies, Lynggaard identifies a set of tactics for
“making home” orhoming” as she denotes it. Rather than following a strategic
approach, Lynggaard adopts an opportunistic and pragmatic approach where the
identified tactics are further explored in concrete design experiments based on equal
measures of pragmatic concerns (time, technical request, budget, company interests etc.)
and the experiments capacity to yield additional contributions to the overall research
interest. Likewise in the work of Bang [2] we find a series of experiments, where each
experiment continually builds on the previous one. In this case, the main interest is an
exploration of emotional value of applied textiles from various perspectives, i.e. textiles
as material’, ‘textiles as part of an object’, and textiles as part of an object in an
environment’. Inviting stakeholders to participate in this exploration the objective with
the experiments was twofold. On the one hand they resulted in the development of an in-
depth knowledge of emotional aspects of textile design and, on the other hand, they were
stepping stones in developing a structured approach to inviting stakeholders to participate
in the industrial textile design process. A key characteristic of this method is:
“systematizing local knowledge”.
3.4 Expansive
This method articulates the identification of an area as-yet uncovered with the ambition
to reveal its qualities, a mode of investigation resembling the work of geographers or
biologists mapping new areas. The work of Dindler [10] and Trotto [32] are exemplars of
this. Unlike serial experimentation there are no strict successive or linear orders or
directions to follow. Experiments and learning from this will contribute new knowledge,
as the area is explored. The characterizing keyword for this method is “broadening” and
“extending”. Rather than deepening our knowledge of a domain, this method widens our
perspective and extends the concerns we, as designers, should include in our praxis.
Trotto does this through a set of experiments, primarily workshops, that continuously
explore new aspects, approaches and techniques for teaching design students to
acknowledge that human rights can be enhanced or suppressed in acts of designing and
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making. Dindler expands our idea of what “engagement” might mean in interaction
design through three diverse experiments including designing engaging artefacts and
developing methods for participatory design centred on engagement.
3.5 Probing
Exploiting opportunities and exploring design ideas as they emerge through design work
is also what characterizes the final method described here: probing.
The approach is widely used in design research and well documented in Worbin [33]
and Busch [6], for example. Yet, it is only when we examine probing in relation to the
other four methods that its methodological value for design research can be fully grasped.
What often characterizes this methodological approach is a personal motivation and
engagement in the research pursuit, where the research activities are points of impact in a
research field larger than what a single research project can be expected to cover. The
choice of experiments in [6, 33] can be characterized as “illogical”, “artistic” and “impact
oriented”. Worbin is interested in the merging of IT and textiles in the very broad sense.
Through a number of experiments she highlights recurring and important aspects of this
mirage of material and experiential properties and qualities. Busch is interested in
hacktivism as part of democratizing fashion production. Both the theses and, presumably,
their doctoral studies are logically structured endeavours exploring the qualities of a
field. However, theses two are characterized by selecting in an almost eclectic manner
wicked, ir-reductive and self-contradictive design settings derived from pursuing
opportunities in the environment (as a professional designer would do). From both a
practice and research point of view this strongly test their subjects. On the basis of such
experiments they make contributions valuable to design research and foster curiosity for
the field itself and its neighbouring areas.
4 Reflections on the typology and future work
Compared to previous discussions and theorizing on RtD our typology contributes to the
existing body of knowledge in at least three respects.
First, the five diagrams of the models can serve as an explanatory visual tool for
clarifying what form(s) of experimentation will be most relevant for the research
question one wants to address. We deliberately allow for the plurality of forms. Even
though we have managed here to identify a number of PhD theses that are representative
of one form of experimentation, it is possible in one design research project to switch
between different experimental modus operandi. Thus, the five forms are not mutually
exclusive as can be seen in Kinch [17]. But their use demands careful consideration of
what kind of knowledge interest one has and which form is deemed most appropriate for
its exploration.
Secondly, our typology allows for a concise description of different knowledge
outcomes that may result from design experimentation: depth or stacking of knowledge,
acknowledging complexity, extending knowledge of a certain area, and so on. Typically,
Peter Gall Krogh, Thomas Markussen, Anne Louise Bang
in the research literature we have consulted such descriptions are not given. Rather
knowledge outcomes are classified generally in terms of, for instance, “nascent theory”,
“conceptual frameworks, guiding philosophies” or “design implications” [34].
However, it is not irrelevant to ask whether a conceptual framework is “broad” or
“systematic”. For instance, Forlizzi and Battarbee’s [12] framework for understanding
user experience in interactive systems is broad as it conceptualizes user experience in
terms of basic psychological categories (fluent, cognitive and expressive), while
Desmet’s [9] framework for emotional design is meticulously worked out as a fine-
grained system of emotions defined according to a varied set of distinctive traits and thus
systematic. Our typology can help to clarify the nature and generality of knowledge
outcomes and eventually to set up valid evaluation criteria for assessing this knowledge.
Third, beyond providing a means to distinguish methods of experimentation in design
research, the above typology also to a varying degree depicts a spectrum of methods that
have a heavy or light foothold in classical research and science. Accumulative
experimentation and serial experimentation have a strong foothold within natural
sciences, where controlled experiments are carried out in order to gain deep knowledge
of a phenomenon, while expansive experimentation and comparative experimentation are
typically represented within social sciences. However, a more elaborated account of how
our typology aligns with methods from other research traditions cannot be dealt with
here, but is postponed for future work. This future work is aligned with previous work on
hypothesizing in RtD [3] and includes a paper in preparation dealing with evaluation in
RtD. The three papers are all intended for conferences and will form the basis of a book
including a wider study of theses expanding and adjusting the grounds of the claims in
the papers.
5 Conclusion
In this paper, we have demonstrated that methodological foundations of RtD can be
derived from a careful analysis of how design experiments are used during an inquiry.
More specifically we offer a typology for understanding the way in which an experiment
may drift throughout a research process. Obviously, since our typology is made up
inductively from the analysis of only 10 PhD theses it is not in any way meant to be
exhaustive, but merely indicative. It makes visible a potential route for developing a
firmer epistemological ground for research practices, which exploit artistically inclined
activities and aesthetic practices as their primary vehicle for knowledge production. Our
hope is that this can be of help to doctoral students, their supervisors, evaluation
committees and research peers who share an interest in grasping the specificity of RtD
while also wanting to know how it relates to research traditions outside design research.
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We would like to thank all the international PhD students who participated in the series
of three doctoral courses focusing on research-through-design that we organized from
2012-2014 and who helped us critically access the various forms of experimentation in
design research. Furthermore wed like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their
valuable and insightful comments and Richard Herriott for helping with editing.
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... My interest in contributing to service design practice, however, is more related to the pragmatist stance, which aims to discover knowledge that is appreciated for being relevant in practice (Goldkuhl, 2012b, p. 144). typologies has been to clarify differences between modes of design research, some scholars argue that the prepositions have instead obscured the understanding of design research (Krogh, Markussen, & Bang, 2015). ...
... In the initial stages of my research, I found that the later service development phases have received limited attention both from service design academia and in practice. From this starting point in a relatively uncharted area, I chose to use an expansive form of research through design (Krogh et al., 2015). ...
... An expansive perspective means that my process resembles that of a geographer mapping an unknown territory, rather than one that follows a stricter, more linear path (Krogh et al., 2015). My ambition has been to uncover various qualities of the later service development phases through exploration and, by doing so, to contribute to new knowledge and to widen the perceptions of what service The aim of design exploration is to challenge accepted paradigms (Fallman, 2008, p. 9). ...
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Human-centricity and user involvement have become increasingly emphasized in Norwegian legislation related to service development in the health and public sectors. At the same time, service design has emerged as a relevant and increasingly popular alternative to accommodate the requirements of user involvement. This article-based PhD thesis explores and contributes to how service designers’ processes and practices might be improved and supported in relation to the later phases of service design processes. The study is rooted in service design practice, and takes an expansive research through design approach. The main methods include participant observation in service development projects, interviews with service designers and clients, and design investigations with service design MA students and their external clients. Insights from these methods have been combined with theoretical perspectives in an iterative process to produce both practical and theoretical contributions. The study shows that thus far there has been an emphasis on the earlier phases of service development, both in service design research and practice, while the later phases have received less attention. Service designers are seldom involved in the later phases, and therefore a critical aspect of these phases is the final handover from service designers to the development team. Findings indicate a need for both an improvement in, and a harmonization of, service design handovers. One potential answer to this is embodied in what I call service design roadmapping, an approach explored and introduced in this thesis. While roadmapping is well-established in other disciplines, this is not the case in service design. The thesis contributes to a deeper understanding of the later phases through practical explorations and theoretical discussions of the phenomenon called user insight drift, the service design handover, and service design roadmapping. Service design roadmapping is a contribution to service design practice that can support service designers and their clients in the transition from a service concept to an implemented service. The approach might help to change the focus of service designers and their clients from the earlier phases toward considering the process as a whole by also focusing upon the later phases.
... The process is rich and multifaceted, and as a result it is difficult to document and communicate. This is in part due to the high number of samples or artifacts created in materially driven processes and the tendency to focus on final outcomes rather than in the details of how we got there (Krogh, Markussen, and Bang 2015). As a result, this type of design research is often reported from the perspective of how certain experiments led to the reaching of a specific goal (Goveia da Rocha and Andersen 2020). ...
... By recognizing that the experiments we make may answer more questions than the ones we asked through their making, we join a broader discussion about drifting in design (Krogh, Markussen, and Bang 2015;Krogh and Koskinen 2020) and craftsmanship (Andersen et al. 2019) to consider the role of making samples in Research through Design. More specifically, we reflect on whether we can consider these samples research objects separated from their original context. ...
... For the most part, we can see the process of moving through these questions as a process of itineration (Ingold 2010), in which every step is a development of the previous one and a preparation for the next. Because the questions we let lead our way were not incremental, our process could also be characterized as an expansive way of drifting (Krogh, Markussen, and Bang 2015), that aimed to explore In the samples of series 2, we recreated the design of Flow. The wearable shape with integrated inflatable air paths and pockets was complex, resulting in a repetition of stitches. ...
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This paper reflects on the experience of sample making to develop interactive materials. Sample making is a way to explore possibilities related to different materials techniques. In recent years design research has put an increasing emphasis on making as a mode of exploration, which in turn has made such exploration an increasingly popular and effective design research approach. However, sample making is a messy and complex process that is hard to document and communicate. To mitigate this, design researchers typically report their journeys from the perspective of their success, retroactively editing out or reducing the accounts of experiments that did not directly contribute to their goal. Although it is a useful way to of contextualizing a design process, it can contribute to a loss of richness and complexity of the work done along the way. Samples can be seen as instantiations of socio-techno systems of production, which means that they can be looked at from different perspectives and can potentially become the starting points of new design explorations. In recognition of this quality, we aim to investigate ways that samples can be appropriated in future journeys. To do so, we analyzed and reflected on the sample making process of the Embroidered Inflatables as a design case. The project resulted in 27 samples that explored distinct challenges related to designing actuators for soft wearables through the combination of silicone casting and embroidery techniques. To explore the potential of sample appropriation, we invited a fashion designer to a creative session that analyzed these samples from her personal perspective to identify new design directions. We detail the design process, reflect on our sample making experience and present strategies to support us in the process of reevaluating and appropriating samples.
... The play experiments with children are systematized as four different experiments, created according to theories of different play types (Hughes, 2011). These are "expanding experiments" (Krogh & Koskinen, 2020;Krogh, Markussen, & Bang, 2015), as they explore a new area for pedagogues working in schools (Ejsing-Duun & Skovbjerg, 2019). However, the Dramatic Reflection experiment is a "serial experiment" as it evolves during the expansion of the play experiments. ...
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Starting from a codesign project on inclusive, pedagogical play practices in schools, this paper presents a phenomenological design experiment called Dramatic Reflection. The Dramatic Reflection experiment was created in collaboration with ped-agogical teams in two Danish schools for the purpose of exploring pedagogical actions regarding different children's ability to participate in play. Inclusive pedagogical actions are understood in a holistic and child-centered manner, and children's play participation is understood as an essential part of their ability to experience relational interdependence within the context of a school. This paper shows how a design experiment for play reflections, Dramatic Reflection, might, due to play qualities such as lightness, travesty, and empathy, nourish the emergence of genuine and meaningful changes within the pedagogical profession. In conclusion, we discuss the relationship between understanding pedagogical professionalism in schools through play design and the development of play qualities in a concrete design as Dramatic Reflection.
... The position paper explores the broad research question "How can interaction designers engage with machine learning as a design material", framed through a primary question: "How can engagement with literary artifacts be an IML interaction modality?". The questions were explored through "probing", a RtD process [9]. This approach was chosen as previous studies have shown it to be a successful way for design researchers to engage with large and complex researches fields that lay outside their main domain of expertise. ...
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We present a prototype of a system for machine learning (ML) powered interactive generative literature called Multiverse. The system employs a set of neural networks models to dynamically generate a literary space from an initial writing prompt provided by its user-reader. The user-reader is able to choose the model used to generate the text as a kind of interactive machine learning (IML). The research explores how interaction design and HCI researchers can engage directly with ML by leveraging the powerful, yet accessible, models afforded by new developments in the field. User-readers testing the prototype found the imperfect aesthetics of the ML-generated texts to be entertaining and engaging but struggled to conceptualize the generated work as a navigable interactive literary space.
... In this process, we borrowed from the drifting method [47]. This process enabled us to drift between coding data using asking questions and building categories through making comparisons, as such enabling us to continuously learn from the findings, also removing researchers' bias [52]. Results obtained from this analysis are presented and discussed in the section below. ...
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According to Person-Centred Care, as far as possible, people with dementia should be cared for in a way that takes into account their personality, life experiences and preferences. Personalisation is hence the core of Person- Centred Care, yet the approaches, recommendations and tools are lacking for this purpose. This thesis explores how this personalisation could be facilitated by design. Three Human-Centred Design approaches are investigated, and recommendations and tools are generated throughout this process. The findings of this thesis encourage designers and healthcare professionals to design for personalised dementia care. In this way, each person with dementia could receive care personalised by one or more elements, such as their life experiences, hobbies, remaining capabilities, preferred interaction styles, and current status. Therefore, this thesis contributes to Person-Centred Care for people with dementia, a core part of their quality of life.
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Concrete is one of the most commonly used construction materials, yet industrial fabrication continues to default to established standards of planar formwork and uniform cross-sections for the sake of simplicity and predictability. The research conducted within Concrete Form[ing]work explored alternative methods of producing concrete formwork with a simple, technical re-imagination of material: exchanging the familiar, i.e., rigid wood, for flexible fabric. A survey of state-of-the-art research in the field of flexible formwork identified extant challenges hindering a more widespread industrial adoption of this concrete forming method. The research presented in this thesis identified two fundamental challenges: the complex tailoring required to produce non-standard forms and the lack of accurate simulation tools to visualize and communicate the fabrication process. This researchs employed a recursive, process-based workflow to construct design research experiments that addressed both of these shortcomings. The experiments were conducted within the fields of smocking, flexible formwork, computational patterning, simulation and correlation, and involved various levels of artifact development (probe, prototype and demonstrator). A review of relevant research revealed three significant characteristics of craft-based experiments: procedural workflows, evaluation criteria and the externalization of tacit material knowledge. These qualities served as a foundation for Concrete Form[ing]work’s research methodology and how experiments were constructed. A circular workflow of simulation, fabrication and calibration was employed to negotiate the complex relationship between parametrically tailored fabric and concrete materiality. Experiments were conducted using various ‘wandering’ approaches (serial, expansive, probing) based on the presence or absence of a preconceived hypothesis; these various approaches allowed for valuable knowledge production while retaining notions of craft. This research includes a comprehensive investigation of the potential of smocking as a means of tailoring complex formwork. Smocking is a centuries-old patterning technique of gathering and pinching fabric; its distinct feature is the ability to transform a flat sheet of gridded material into a complex surface without the extensive tailoring of custom pieces. By cataloging the related research fields of mesh unrolling, origami, kirigami origami, auxetic materials and conformal mapping in great depth, the research presented in this thesis has viii developed a digital tool, OriNuno, that deconstructs double-curved geometries into smocking patterns. OriNuno exemplifies the ability to program both local and global geometrical articulation with parametric smocking, allowing for the sustainable fabrication of complex forms from a single sheet of material. Secondly, this research systematized tacit material knowledge in the field of flexible formwork and concrete through communication and externalization. This was achieved by highlighting not just the result but the process of experimentation and developing accurate simulation tools that correlated with the final fabricated counterparts. The simulation tool utilizes open-source plugins to construct particle-spring models, which negotiate the complex interconnections between concrete rheology, hydrostatic forces and textile elasticity. The digital tool was refined through an iterative feedback loop between simulation, computation, physical experiments and assembly to ensure high correlation with cast counterparts. The contribution of the research conducted in this thesis can be viewed in terms of two aspects: the textile patterning of complex forms without an overabundance of unique elements and the expansion of accessible design and accurate simulation tools for flexible formwork. Addressing existing knowledge gaps and formalizing implicit knowledge improves the accessibility, utility and repeatability of flexible formwork fabrication methods for industry and designers with no previous tacit experience. This thesis takes significant steps to repair the once-fractured relationship between designer and fabricator through iterative material and digital experiments. In doing so, the research conducted within Concrete Form[ing]work has the potential to fundamentally change and streamline how the field of computational patterning and flexible formwork is approached and integrated within architectural design.
This paper presents an initial research project to explore what characterizes knowledge production in craft practice situated in an informal/neutral learning arena outside the education institution. The research project is carried out by craft and design researchers from Norway and Denmark. The project participants include students, academics, older generation volunteers with craft experience, freelance designers, and arts and craft persons, as well as researchers. The overall methodology is a case study approach and has references to practice-led research, participatory design research and A/R/Tography. In this paper we present the research design of the project. Along a theoretical framework consisting of research perspectives of each of our institutional traditions, we lastly discuss the challenges in engaging a neutral learning arena, throughout and as preparation for our research project.
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There is a global need for improved, appropriate medical devices (MDs) particularly in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The medical device industry is one of the fastest growing and most vital and dynamic sectors of the global economy, yet South Africa’s medical device industry is relatively underdeveloped, constituted mostly by multinational subsidiaries, importers and distributors with very little local design and manufacture of MDs. The lack of medical device development (MDD) in South Africa is attributed to the complexities of designing for healthcare, such as navigating regulatory controls and certifications, and a myriad of end-users and stakeholders; the lack of formal MDD training in South African institutions; and until June 2017, the absence of a medical device regulatory framework/body in the South African context. This study began with an in-depth literature review, analysing, comparing and synthesising the work and MDD process models of 10 authors, contextualising and defining the MDD process as defined in the existing literature. The review and synthesis of the existing literature identified that although MDD process models have been defined: none of them describe the South African MDD regulatory landscape; most describe the MDD process from an engineering or business perspective rather than a design point of view; and none made mention of the affect designing for paediatrics has on the process. This study therefore aimed to define a design process model with the purpose of generating design knowledge that better enables local industrial designers in navigating paediatric MDD in the South African context.
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The main approach of this paper is to look at design research from a systems-oriented perspective. This implies that design research is understood as a dynamic and emergent field of interrelated or contradicting thoughts, concepts and ideas. The first three sections of this paper draw cross-sections into the emerging richness in design research as it matures as a genuine mode of knowledge production. They address some of the positions, concepts, and discussions going on in the field, arguing that practice research in design is the most central. The current state is discussed and the relation between design research and other modes of knowledge production are looked at. A main tendency seems to be that design research is moving towards greater complexity both in issues and approaches and that Research by Design is becoming ever more central. Research by Design emphasizes insider perspectives, a generative approach, operates in rich and multiple layers and relates to real life contexts. The output is new communicable knowledge that is only found within design practice. The next two sections of the paper discuss the various possible relations between design practice and reflection. These span from distant perspectives where design practice is observed by outsider researchers, looking at practice retrospectively or contemporarily as in case studies, to participatory research and insider perspectives where the designer-researcher uses his or her own practice as a means for investigation and a bases and subject for reflection and knowledge production. The last section proposes the critical application of multiple perspectives, methods and media in composite approaches to design research. This analysis does not claim to provide a complete picture, but it suggests a method of looking at the field of design research in both a more holistic and more specific way. This could be helpful to position the individual design researchers approach in the complex landscape of design research. Arguing that ‘traditional sciences’ are very complex and manifold, design research is in itself a very complex, if not one of the most complex field of knowledge production. The paper claims that such a complexity demands an equally rich repertoire of interrelated methods and positions.
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Commonly the term “experiment” is in the first place associated with science, systematic methods and strict principles for the sake of knowledge creation. Nonetheless, the term is widely used across the boundaries of science. The arts attribute artworks likewise as experimental – a usage that is often claimed to be metaphorical, since experiments in the arts (including design) lack the essential attributes that define a scientific experiment. Currently, research in the fields of science studies and literary science has revised these established conceptions as well as the primacy of the scientific experiment. The philosophical approach of New Experimentalism relativizes the deductive conception of hypothesis-testing experiments and argues for a broader view. Studies in literary science and cross-disciplinary comparison between the arts reveal an age-long experimental tradition and also common characteristics of experimental work in these fields. Awareness of these developments is essential for design researchers, theoreticians and historians in order to position, theorize and argue for design experiments accordingly. The essay suggests avoiding a narrow, one-sided view of experiments in design and design research and points to the potential of practice-led design research to reconcile the “two cultures” that shape the field.
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It is, today, widely appreciated that Research-through-Design – or Constructive Design Research as we will call it in this paper – allows for designers to produce knowledge based on the skills and capacities of the design field itself. However, most of the research fails to bridge the gap between the general notions of constructive design research and the detailed research activities of the field. We therefore suggest bridging this methodological gap in the academic discussion with what we have ended up calling the " entrance level of constructive design research ". As a step towards to a more nuanced and solid perspective on how to keep constructive design research on track, this paper offers a model for understanding the role of hypothesis in constructive design research. The model allows for understanding the hypothesis's relation to research motivation, questions, experiments, evaluation and knowledge production. The intention of the model is to have it serve as a tool in the research process aiding the researcher to understand at what " level " discussions and claims are brought forward, and what consequences these might have for the research work at hand. Thus, the paper claims the central position of the hypothesis as a key-governing element even in artistic led research processes.
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Experimental design research must become more accessible in doctoral education, and obtain a clearer identity in the larger environment of academic research. How can we share knowledge produced in research projects with designerly experiments at their core even though the projects’ scope and the research approaches are very different? We suggest that an attentive reading understanding design research practice as iterations of programming and experimenting may be helpful. We invited research colleagues to join us in a meta-inquiry into fruitful reading strategies in a workshop examining three very different Ph.D. dissertations. In this paper we briefly lay out our notions of program and experiment and report on how the workshop participants map genealogy, compare interventions, and discuss how the outcomes of the various experiments become arguments in knowledge production.
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