Wearing Two Hats: Reflecting Alongside Authentic Designing

Yorkshire & Humber
Published Date: 1 Jan 2014

To be useful in research enquiry, design practice should be authentic and include reflection on and in practice, creating a tension for those with the dual role of ‘designerresearcher’. Designerly thinking and human-centred and participatory design characterise authentic practice and reinforce its applicability as research through design or Action Research. To move from contributions of specifically what/how to design to more transferable principles, designer-researchers should: provide accessible accounts of practice; evaluate the relevance or workability of what is designed; in AR, ensure stakeholder collaboration throughout; and, ensure systematic reflection on practice. Schön (1983) and Gedenryd (1998) explain reflection in design practice as an enquiry into problem-settings and solutions, and this involves tacit knowing (Polanyi, 1966). Explicit attendance and reflection on design moves during practice can then break down the process of designing. We propose reflection alongside practice to minimise this, which creates accounts of practice as a resource for practitioners to re-access their reflection in practice and further reflect on practice. In a short case study, an external researcher interviewed designer-researchers throughout a health service co-design project, enabling the research team to develop transferable principles from the design methods used. We discuss the advantages of this approach over self-directed accounting.

Simon Bowen