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Ideas and Beliefs in Architecture and Industrial Design

Ideas and Beliefs in Architecture and Industrial Design

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Published by Pankaj Jedermann

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Published by: Pankaj Jedermann on Jan 10, 2012
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12/03/2012

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“For so long, design has been dogged with debate over

what might be constituted the `right' research methods:

whether design is special and therefore should establish its

own research methods, or whether it was about practice

and therefore the mere act of practice was research.

Hopefully we have moved on. From a personal perspective

I have always believed there were enough methods avail-

able in science, social science, the arts and humanities for

us to pick and choose and to create our own toolbox ac-

cording to the research issue or problem under considera-

tion. All that we need to do is to understand methods and

to apply them with rigour and in an appropriate manner.”

(Cooper, 2003: 1)

A number of design scholars as well as architects and industrial designers
assert that architecture and industrial design are “special” disciplines, and
therefore need to be researched using special research methods (see above
quote).67

This argument will not be drawn upon, referenced or supported
here. Neither will the idea that architecture and industrial design practice is in
itself research be supported. Instead, it will be suggested that architecture and
industrial design could benefit from learning from other professions and their
approach to research, specifically how research contributes to the knowledge
base found within other professions (this point is elaborated in chapter
four).68

As introduced in the previous section, this PhD project is different from
many other design research projects because it contains multiple perspec-
tives, has a relatively broad scope and utilizes an encircling research
approach and scholarship of integration rather over an in-depth approach and
scholarship of discovery (Boyer, 1990: 16 - 18).69

This is based on an
argument asserting that, in addition to the in-depth approach, there is a need
for scholarly work which gives meaning to isolated research (facts) and then
puts these aspects in perspective (Boyer, 1990: 18).

An encircling and integrative approach implies the formation of connections
across disciplines (in this case architecture and industrial design), placing
aspects and specialties in a larger context and illuminating data from new

perspectives (Boyer, 1990: 18). In short, encircling and integration is
characterised by interdisciplinary, interpretive and integrative aspects.

The scholarship of encircling and integration is closely related to “detection”
and implies that one is seeking to interpret, draw together, define relation-
ships, and bring new insight to bear on already existing research. Using this
approach, the researcher tends to ask “‘What do the findings mean? Is it
possible to interpret what’s been discovered in ways that provide a larger,
more comprehensive understanding?’” (Boyer, 1990: 19) instead of the usual
question of What is to be known? and What is yet to be found?. In other
words, it can be asserted that theory building in a very coarse categorisation
serves two main purposes where “one is to predict the occurrence of events or
outcomes of experiments, and thus to anticipate new facts” (Boyer, 19901971:
19)
, and “the other is to explain, or to make intelligible facts which have
already been recorded” (Wright, 1971: 1). The scholarship of encircling and
integration is connected to the second one, and when carefully pursued, this
approach holds the potential to reveal new knowledge or larger intellectual
patterns.

However, PhDs which are based on this approach tend to have a broader
scope than the more “traditional” in-depth approach and therefore often
include a more extensive manuscript than other PhDs; this is the case for the
PhD in question. From an in-depth perspective this type of PhD can be criti-
cised for having a tendency to treat every aspect as equally important and for
lacking a very specific research question. From an in-depth perspective, this
criticism is valid, but as the objectives within the scholarship of integration is
to interpret, draw together, define relationships, and bring new insight to bear
on already existing research, the very nature of this approach tends to have an
all-encompassing evenness and have a broad research question. Thus, it
should be accepted that, within the scholarship of integration, an all-
encompassing evenness and broad research question is not a problem, but a
natural consequence of the method in question.

Nevertheless, even if this PhD is not allied with the more “traditional” in-
depth approach, is it consistent with a considerable research tradition that
incorporates a number of research approaches within architecture and indus-
trial design, which focus on why it is that, architects and industrial designers
design as they do.70

In the following sections the aforementioned research method will be intro-
duced. Additionally, the background and the rationale behind its selection
will be discussed.

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