Building theory through design

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


    This chapter deals with a fundamental matter of concern in research through design: how can design work lead to the building of new theory? Controversy exists about the balance between theory and design work in research through design. While some researchers see theory production as the scientific hallmark of this type of research, others argue for design work being the primary achievement, with theory serving the auxiliary function of inspiring new designs. This paper demonstrates how design work and theory can be appreciated as two equally important outcomes of research through design. To set the scene, it starts out by briefly examining ideas on this issue presented in existing research literature. Hereafter, it introduces three basic forms in which design work can lead to theory that is referred to as extending theories, scaffolding theories and blending theories. Finally, it is discussed how the contribution of the paper aligns with a broader view on the role of theory in practice-based design research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPractice based design research
    EditorsLaurene Vaughan
    PublisherBloomsbury Academic
    Publication date26. Jan 2017
    ISBN (Print)9781474267809
    Publication statusPublished - 26. Jan 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Practice-Based Design Research provides a companion to masters and PhD programs in design research through practice. The contributors address a range of models and approaches to practice-based research, consider relationships between industry and academia, researchers and designers, discuss initiatives to support students and faculty during the research process, and explore how students' experiences of undertaking practice-based research has impacted their future design and research practice. The text is illustrated throughout with case study examples by authors who have set up, taught or undertaken practice-based design research, in a range of national and institutional contexts.


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