Friday, May 4, 2012

Designing Research, Researching Design

With the discourse of the MIT panel and its impressive audience still firmly in our minds, please do some thinking and writing about Design and Research (as opposed to a search).  For Monday morning, formulate and share your definitions of these two terms.  Also, share your thoughts on whether the two are necessarily distinct.  Is there overlap?  Are the distinctions you draw necessary or convenient?  How so, and if the latter, what purpose does the distinction serve?  In other words, what is the role of the knower?  As a possible starting point, here are the aspects of research as defined by Warren Seering (who, I was thrilled to see, lists design as a research interest):
1. Study the designer
2. Examine the design artifact (eg. the house)
3. Understand the methods of understanding
4. Define the tools (CAD, the hammer, etc.)


  1. Design: to design something is to create it. It doesn't necessarily have to be the first time, but it should be original. For example, designers design clothes- they are creating something new thought it may be influenced by something that came before it.
    Research: to research is to search for new knowledge or to find new knowledge. One can research knowledge that is already established or one could find the new knowledge themselves.

    The two ideas are directly related. One must research before they can design. Even if a designer has not sat down and read books on clothing, they would still have "researched" because of prior influence. The two terms are distinct because they are cause and effect in essence. You can't design until after you research.

  2. The MIT panel was successful in making me think about the differences between design and research. Like Ami stated out loud during the discussion, design and research goes hand in hand- in order to make a design, there needs to be research. Not just research from the internet, but research of the subject and the ways in which the particular thing can be designed. With research, there needs to be a design in the ways data is collected and gathered. To me, design is the creation of something new. It is a new method in making something, and is purposeful. Although it can be happenstance, design can be made to help improve a technological innovation, make someone’s house look fancy, or to stand out of the crowd. Research is the gathering of information and data in order to learn more about a subject. Although the two are slightly distinct, there is plenty of overlap because research can be applied to design. One cannot design something without knowing about the subject of it. I’m not sure whether the distinctions I draw are necessary because they overlap so much. They are certainly convenient because it helps me remember that they are not the same exact thing, and that they do have their small differences. There needs to be skill in design, and sometimes people don’t always have the best skills in designing something that is beneficial. Design and research are different because of the ways that it is applied. They do not serve the same purpose, although many a times, one is able to benefit the other. The distinction allows for me to remember that there are different purposes between design and research and that although the two are very similar, and may even rely on each other, they are not the same.

  3. My definition of design is that it's something you create, and or have the idea of producing. It may not only be related to art/fashion but other things as well, like the example of the architects at MIT design buildings. I also believe that many designs are unique but sometimes have influence on them from either another design or cultures ideas.
    My definition of research is to find new information (or confirm that information). Or to expand on your knowledge of a subject or topic, such as research for a history project.
    I think that the two ideas are related, however I do not believe that one is more important. I agree with Kate that one must research before they design but then I asked myself a few questions and realized that just like our Extended Essay research question or topic, many of us designed our question in order to do the research. But in most cases generally it's research then design.

  4. Design- innovative and creative work that originates from an initial idea. That idea can come from a past experience, or an image, or anything else, but it ultimately needs to a original in some way, shape, or form.

    Research- looking at information that is readily available through another source (whether it be the internet, another person, or a book). It occurs when one searches to expand their knowledge in a certain field or subject.

    In many ways, these two are directly related. One must start their knowledge form somewhere in order to create something. One must be able to have background knowledge in order to design. They must be able to start from somewhere and learn the overall basics of what they plan on making. So, in essence, although design is innovative, it must still have a background in research.

  5. I think it is extremely difficult if not impossible to generate a working definition for design, simply because it has a different understanding and meaning to each person individually. As one person in the audience at MIT stated, "it is something that is not art". I, as many others would most certainly disagree with this statement and point of view but the different interpretation of the word design is what makes it so complex and extremely difficult to define.
    I would define design as to conceive and purposefully carry out a plan inorder to have unique results. As for research, I would say it is to look up and carry out a detailed study on a particular thing. I think these two words interlace and also go hand-in-hand with each other as Ami stated, I don't think it is possible to have a design of something without previous source of inspiration or influence, in which case it could then be research.

  6. I would like to focus on Design and Research as verbs. I am going to agree with Warren Seering on this one, and say that design is the process of transforming the existing into a preferable state. Research is the process of retrieving and finding the existing. Design and research both imply better understanding of already existing things. But the distinction is the methods that come with each process. Design hints to a new beginning, starting from what the designer might see as "scratch". With research, the researcher starts with an already established model, and isn't looking to create something new. Design can be a byproduct of research. For example, through the research done for a dissertation, one can design a conclusion. Either way, both research and design offer new knowledge.

  7. Design: to create a plan and organize illustration of an idea (usually to better a situation)

    Research: an act to gain more knowledge of a certain subject or topic that usually influence or help create an idea.

    Design and research are linked in many ways but are not the same. To my understanding, research in many cases is needed to start a design. If you are oblivious of what you want to design then how do you create a drawing that is affective? Also there is a difference between drawing and designing. Designs must be planed out whereas drawings don't necessarily need a purpose. In conclusion, research is the more serious part of design.

  8. Design, I believe, can be defined as something is created. This seems simple, but in the end design is a creation. It can be a building, a painting, a room, clothing, and practically everything else. In fact, aren't we ourselves a design? We have been created haven't we? It doesn't matter whether or not you believe in evolution or in God. We all started from somewhere. If we were created by the very act of the universe, then we are a design made by the universe. But there has to be a purpose. There has to be some sort of plan, that will result in a design. If one was to paint the next great American work of art, there would have to be some thought put in to it. It can't just be made. If you ever thought that Jackson Pollock just randomly threw paint on a campus, think again. If you look at his work closely, you will notice that every splatter of paint is in just the right spot. There is always a pattern within. So all design requires some sort of preparation.
    Research can be defined as the act of investigating and studying sources to reach a certain conclusion or result. When people think of research, they often think of a research paper. You just find a few sources on the internet, write a few pages, and your done. That is not real research. In order to do real research, one has to totally immerse themselves in the task at hand. Interview people, read many books, explore historical documents, and yes, even search the web. This research has to lead to a product. An intricate, and well presented product. This product is a result of your research.
    I really do believe that design and research go hand and hand. As I mentioned previously, in order to make a design, there has to be a plan. This plan is called research. For example, in IB Dance we learned about Martha Grahem. Many of her dances were about Greek myths. She had to really understand the morals of the different myths to portray them accurately in her dances. To her, it was her God given duty to make art. Dances that meant something. She designed through research. Like Warren Steering mentioned, we have to "define the tools" in order to create. Tools can be translated into information and knowledge. One has to define knowledge in order to truly design.

  9. A design is how something is constructed or a plan for something larger, whether it’s in terms of art or solving a problem.

    Research is something that is done to answer a question and find an answer. It’s a process.

    These two ideas do influence each other, but are distinctly two different ideas. A design is a plan (a step by step plan) can be an answer to a problem, like how do you bake a cake? The answer to this question would be a recipe, which is another form of a design. Before one has an answer, one must find the answer, which requires research. Research is first, then there’s a design. Sometimes these ideas overlap. A design could also be used in a process to find an answer. This would make the design a part of research. Research can also be a design. The way this works would be that the process of finding an answer is part of a plan for a larger objective.

  10. Design: To organize or rearrange based on human needs or desire.
    Research: Knowledge seeking, to satisfy the desire of knowing.

    The two terms are different in a way that design is more of a self-reflect research, compare to research itself, it is to reach out to the natural database. Design is a self-reflect action in a way that it is searching in the designer's mind and therefore including the designer's background and tone, compare to research, it is a reaching out process.
    It is important to have both skills because one have to be balanced on one's soul and one's feelings. Both of the terms are not so much different, it is the way how we use it different, the way we interact differently on the two words makes every individual unique and special.

  11. Both design and research are processes, though the former involves mainly synthesis, while the latter is a discovery. I've never thought of the two as remotely similar, but I think I may be reconsidering. Design often is simply the reorganisation of ideas. When one goes on a research quest, similarly, one sometimes is seeking to have one's own ideas reorganised or to glean new ones to add to preexisting ones. Also, design can be used as a sort of blueprint: a plan for how to reorganise ideas.
    I think the distinction is necessary because of the creator role the designer occupies and the learner role the researcher occupies. I agree, however, with LolaTOK in that the process of design can have the same results as the research process (finding an answer). I find this distinction (and also the similarity) in Seering's definition of research: his research process involves this sort of blueprint, but separates the researcher from the designer in that the former studies the creations of the latter.


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