Design Driven Knowledge Production

Research leader: Bo Westerlund

Actions and creative practice are at the centre of this research as part of an expanded, relational and contextual process. This involves investigating, for example, how people derive meaning from their existence, in relation to who they are and where they are headed. This generates new knowledge about people and about today’s complex society, where aspects pertaining to sustainability are critical. The research takes a discriminatingly searching epistemological approach, and is being developed through staging the embodiments of various knowledge areas.

Making and testing are seen as a way of conceptualising, and the knowledge emerges through activities and tangible materialisations. The knowledge is thereby open to both development and critical review together with others. The making also leads to knowledge that can be hard to express in words. This aspect of knowledge is central to a large proportion of Konstfack’s activities and is hard to produce in any other way.

Design research has developed from a relatively narrow understanding of design, to an interpretation of design which recognises it as a significant part of our cultural and material culture, and which also incorporates societal and sustainability aspects. It is often inter- or trans-disciplinary, taking an inclusive and participatory approach. Research is carried out through design and uses design's exploratory, innovative, integrative and aesthetic capability to create, depict, assess and embody new possibilities in complex situations and contexts through sketches and prototypes. Within this design-driven research, there are approaches in which human beings are the focal point (human-centred design), but there is also a strong focus on “things” (non-humans) and their impact. In this context, things should be understood both as traditional objects, but also as services and compounds of the two.

In this research field, radical rethinking means that we investigate the very foundations of design. With a deeper understanding of design, we are better prepared to collaborate with other people, fields and contexts within research, which allows us to make more profound contributions to it. A more thorough understanding of design also contributes to making our teaching well-articulated and relevant. This in turn affects future design practice.

Many of the challenges we are faced with today are of an open, complex, dynamic and interconnected nature, with conflicts arising between the wishes of different stakeholders, which requires us to be able to radically rethink questions, frameworks, participation, methods and representations.

Projects:
Symbiotic Tactics
Design, beyond service and product - educating for new vistas of design professions
DeCoDe

Updated: 17 April 2013
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