New perspectives: the practice of theory
Today, the terms science and research appear not only in designers’ academic discourses but increasingly in practice-based design work as well. For centuries, designers have been working tenaciously, and successfully, to liberate design from the connotation of styling.
In fact, the connection between scientificness and design has a long tradition. In Germany, scientific methods were integrated into design education as early as the times of Bauhaus and later at HFG Ulm.
Currently, the science of design and research in the field are developing into drivers of transformation aimed at drawing new boundaries for design that match its relevance and potential.
The objective is not to dissolve a classic task profile but rather to enrich and profile an entire discipline.
Design research and the science of design are multi-facetted and include considerations regarding the nature of design itself and the specific form of knowledge in design, exploring existing and developing new methods and processes, examining the relationship between mankind and its designed environment from symbols to individual material items –to name only a few of the many topics that appear to be reserved for the enraptured spheres of theorists. Reflection ensures orientation for our own attitudes and helps us understand and communicate our actions and the reasons for them. The fact that language is the dominant medium in this process may challenge, but at the same time enrich, the practice of design which traditionally is visually oriented.
Elaborating on knowledge about contexts and users using scientific methods as starting points for design is very close to our practical work. Newer segments such as service design or interactive design would be unimaginable without both extensive research and new technologies.
Research into and the science of design are not exclusive domains of design but establish cross-disciplinary connections among segments of science including sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy and cultural sciences.
We must not fear that design and creativity will be lost as core competences in the process since we can allow ourselves to rely on the wisdom of the great scientist Albert Einstein who said, “imagination is more important than knowledge, for knowledge is limited […].“