Connecting Practice to Research (and back to practice): Making the Leap from Design Practice to Design Research

By Joyce S R Yee.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The proliferation of research degrees in the subject of design reflects the growing importance of research-based approaches in this discipline. However, it is not unreasonable to suggest that design (being a creative, subjective and artifact-based activity) does not naturally lend itself to the scientific, objective and knowledge-based activity of research. As a result, design researchers who have practised as designers are still rare within the design research community. Of those that do make the transition from practice to research (and back), they often enter with a misinformed notion of ‘research’, which ranges from a view that design research consists of a large-scale design project, to one of scientific experimentation only.
This paper draws from the experiences of the author who has undertaken and completed a research degree in the subject of Design. It is a response to difficulties faced by the author during her PhD experience and proposes to address the questions: Are there any similarities between practice and research that can be highlighted to enable designers to understand the requirements of research? What skills and knowledge can be derived from research, which can be brought back into design practice? How can we better prepare designers to undertake research? It is hoped that the issues expressed here will be a basis for continued discussion on how design education can begin to incorporate a research-based curriculum, and for professional bodies to promote the value of research to practitioners.

Keywords: PhD, Design Research, Design Practice, Research in Practice

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.81-90. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 720.458KB).

Dr. Joyce S R Yee

Research Associate, Centre for Design Research, School of Design, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Joyce is a practising designer and researcher in New Media design. She is part of the New Media team at the Centre for Design Research, Northumbria University in the United Kingdom. Joyce has recently completed a PhD degree at Northumbria University, on developing a practice-led framework to promote the practise and application of typography across different media. Her research interests are in the areas of: text-based communication in a multi-modal environment, typographic education for digital media and practice-based research methods for designers.


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