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Design Research Through Practice: From the Lab, Field, and Showroom [Paperback]

Ilpo Koskinen , John Zimmerman , Thomas Binder , Johan Redstrom , Stephan Wensveen
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

29 Sep 2011

Businesses and the HCI and Interaction Design communities have embraced design and design research. Design research as a field blends methodologies from several disciplines - sociology, engineering, software, philosophy, industrial design, HCI/interaction design -- so designers can learn from past successes and failure and don't have to reinvent the wheel for each new design (whether it's a digital product, a building, an airplane or furniture). They take into account form, function, and, ultimately, users.

Many books exist in the research and academic realm for this field, but none create a usable bridge to design practice. Although business people are embracing design, they are not going to become designers. Design researchers need tools to apply their research in the real world.

Design Research through Practice takes advanced design practice as its starting point, but enriches it to build a design process than can respond to both academic and practical problems. The aims of the book are to study three design research traditions that cover methodological directions in current leading research community. Taking you from the Lab, Field and to the Showroom, Ilpo Koskinen and his group of researchers show you successful traditions in design research that have been integrated into processes and products.  Bridging the gap from design research to design practice, this is a must have for any designer.

. Gathers design research experts from traditional lab science, social science, art, industrial design, UX and HCI to lend tested practices and how they can be used in a variety of design projects

. Provides a multidisciplinary story of the whole design process, with proven and teachable techniques that can solve both academic and practical problems

. Presents key examples illustrating how research is applied and vignettes summarizing the key how-to details of specific projects

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann (29 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0123855020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0123855022
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 18.8 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 379,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Design Research Through Practice will quickly become a book that is critical to own whether you are new to design research, an expert at design research, or someone who collaborates with design researchers. The classifications of Lab, Field, and Showroom are useful and workable categories that help researchers to understand design research as an intentional byproduct of what designers do naturally -- envision and prototype a better future through the creation of artifacts, environments, services and systems. This book is a must-read!-Jodi Forlizzi, Associate Professor of Design and HCI, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University

Design Research Through Practice demonstrates how different traditions of collaborative constructions have bridged the gap between understanding and making, and theoretical and actual solutions.... This is a thoughtful examination of exemplary practice and an inspirational foundation for others to refelct and build upon. --from the foreword by Jane Fulton Suri, Managing Partner; Creative Director, IDEO

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars UNIQUELY USEFUL 14 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For its careful setting out of underlying theories, research methods, findings and the places where they were used – all of them with annotated references – for Lab, Field and Showroom projects, this work is invaluable. That it is so relatively slim is a bonus.
I know of no work that approaches it.
For all those who wish to using designing as research or who want to undertake research higher degrees of that nature, this is where you should start.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Theory follows practice but practice cannot be recognized without theory 18 Oct 2012
By Chow - Published on
'Design Research Through Practice' is at once a position statement, a commentary, a collection of best practices, an infomercial, and a textbook on `constructive design research'. This hybridity makes reviewing quite challenging. I choose to review this book by following the authors' three reasons for writing: `First design has increasingly become a growing academic field. We feel that a bird's eye perspective on it is useful for researchers, professors, and students alike. The second reason is that a PhD is fact becoming an entry criterion for teaching positions; however, this is not how design is traditionally taught: design has been like art, taught by masters to apprentices. The apprenticeship model has guaranteed that designers have sensitivities that are very difficult to put in words. To maintain these sensitivities, professors of the future need design skills, and one way to maintain these skills is to bring design into the middle of research. The third reason for writing this book is to add tolerance. Designers are not traditionally well versed is scientific practice and tend to understand science narrowly. We still hear talks about the scientific method, even though there clearly are many methods. A good deal of astrophysics and geology is not experimental. In contrast, we argue that there is a need for many types of methods and methodologies in design, just as there is a need for many types of methodologies in the sciences and the social sciences'.

For the first objective, I find the bird soaring not very high and the perspective hardly new. I read the second objective as a wish to maintain `designerly way of knowing' in the academy and the book as providing examples on how to do it. This objective is masterfully achieved. For the third aim, I see more testimonys than arguments. I will first start with the jewel in the book.

Here arguably one can find the best collection of examples of `constructive design research' in which `construction - be it product, system, spaces and media - takes center place and becomes the key means in constructing knowledge' and which `does most of the things that Findeli and Jonas call forth'. The international debates on what design research should be, as the authors also note, have gone on for over 15 years. Despite the fact that quite a number of models exist: Practice-Led Research, Project-Grounded Research and Research Through Design; there is a lack of good examples. Talks have become cheap. The authors, in a thoughtful manner and with sufficient details, showcase a variety of projects in Industry Design, Interaction Design, and Service Design from both the industry and the university. Although one might question whether some projects are suitable examples for Doctoral research; or whether the tone is sometimes too promotional; they provide concrete cases to argue about and build on. I find these to be very useful for teaching purposes and a commendable contribution to keeping `designerly way of knowing' in the university. Mission 2 completed with five stars!

Mission 1 and 3 are linked and I will treat them as one. Theory follows practice, so the authors believe; however, abstracting practices into a book is `what the university needs'. And yet the book is more descriptive than constructive. While the examples are valuable, the insights and concepts abstracted from these practices: lab, field and showroom hardly add anything new to the theoretical discourse. I cannot help but wonder why the authors acknowledge Jonas and Findeli and yet totally ignore their models when interpreting these exemplary projects. If the models from Jonas and Findeli are inadequate to describe or characterize these projects, is it not useful and valuable to correct or expand or reconstruct them? Perhaps the authors do not see this as their task, but that would strike me as very odd, given objective 1 and 3.

The serious theorists of Research Through Design have over the years put forward arguments for their positions. They have done battles. It might be that what they say has been practiced in different corners of the world for as long as they have been writing. But it might also be that we would not have recognized these exemplary cases without their discourse from the past 15 years. Theory might indeed follow practice but practice cannot be recognized without theory. The authors stop short of confronting existing design research theory with practical examples and pushing the boundary of our knowledge. For that, I have to take away one star.

Best Regards,
Rosan Chow, Germany
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