Ways of seeing design research: A polyphonic speculation

We recently published an ‘exploratory paper’ at this year’s Nordic Design Research Society conference (Nordes), entitled, “Ways of Seeing Design Research: A Polyphonic Speculation”; a collaboration between the project team, Enrique Encinas (Oslo School of Architecture and Design), and Spyros Bofylatos (Royal College of Art, London).

The paper explores the challenge of capturing the diversity of knowledge outcomes from Design Research projects, which can take many forms and include ambiguities and subjectivities that are difficult to convey in “traditional” academic papers. The title pays homage to John Berger’s seminal “Ways of Seeing” documentary television series.

“Polyphonic Speculation” refers to the synthesis of several approaches (polyphony = many voices) through speculative design, which in this case involved exploring ideas for a database of Design Research work.

The paper draws on several attempts, made over the last two years – by various configurations of the paper’s authors – to develop ideas for a database repository of Design Research outputs. It feeds into our ongoing work into an ‘Observatory’ of Design Research, and makes two primary contributions:

1) We pose and explain the “causality dilemma” between the challenge of representing diversity of Design Research and capturing (in the process of doing Design Research) the relevant contextual information that constitutes that diversity.

2) Exploration how the work uses the idea of “polyphonic speculation”.

The full paper is accessible (open access) here.

Written by

Dr David Philip Green

Dave is a Senior Research Associate on the project. He is a Design Researcher with a background in participatory documentary making and Human Computer Interaction. His core role on in Design Research Works is to produce a series of documentary films relating to the world of Design Research.