Design and Research Processes in Postgraduate Design Education

By Elivio Bonollo and Carlos Montana-Hoyos.

Published by The International Journal of Design Education

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Based on several previous publications by the authors, this paper sets out to clarify the relationship between the ‘research process’ and the ‘design process’ in the context of postgraduate design education, and with particular reference to PhD studies in Industrial Design (ID). The relationship between these processes is not well understood by postgraduate research students, and this is further complicated by generic terms such as ‘research design’ and ‘design-based research’ which are not equivalent to research within the design fields. This causes possible confusion when developing clear research proposals and selecting appropriate qualitative, quantitative and mixed research methods to be employed as part of an overall postgraduate research plan. In addition, the relationships between ‘design practice’ and ‘design research’, defined by ‘practice-based research’ and ‘practice-led research’, can sometimes be controversial in academic research, and their understanding varies in different countries and schools of art and design. However, as will be explained, the ‘research process’ and the ‘design process’ have valuable analogous functions and characteristics which enhance research outcomes when applied sensibly in PhD studies. This paper will use simple process modelling tools, Venn diagrams, case examples and pragmatic experience from supervising PhD projects to show how the research and design processes are interrelated, leading to better informed research experiences for students and supervisors.

Keywords: Design Process, Research Process, Postgraduate Design Education, Research Plans and Proposals, Industrial Design

The International Journal of Design Education, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.51-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.547MB).

Prof. Elivio Bonollo

Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Prof. Elivio Bonollo PhD (Melb) is emeritus professor of industrial design in the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra. He was foundation professor of industrial design at UC (1997-2002) and a pro vice-chancellor (1999-2001). Earlier he was dean of the Faculty of Environmental Design (1997-1998). He was foundation professor and director of the Centre for Industrial Design at Monash University (1989- 1996), and before this he was the senior lecturer in charge of industrial design in the Faculty of Art at RMIT (1979-1989). He is the founder of the industrial design discipline at Monash University and the principal author of the original industrial design degrees at RMIT (1982) and Monash University (1989). He is a PhD supervisor and currently a member of the Space, Place and Object Research Cluster.

Assoc. Prof. Carlos Montana-Hoyos

Associate Professor of Industrial Design, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Assoc. Prof. Carlos Montana Hoyos PhD (KDU) is currently an associate professor in the industrial design course of the Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra. His main research is in biomimicry and design for sustainability, and he recently published a book on these topics. He graduated cum laude with a MAID and a PhD from Kobe Design University (Japan Scholarship). As a designer, he has developed multidisciplinary projects related to concept, product, graphics, exhibition and urban design. Several of his projects have received diverse international design awards. As an academic, he was an adjunct assistant professor in the Product Design Engineering course of EAFIT University in his country, Colombia (2001 - 2003). He was also a fellow and assistant professor in the industrial design program of the National University of Singapore (2006 - 2010).