How the tools of design research can involve designers more directly with objects, products and services they design; from human-centered research methods to formal experimentation, process models, and application to real world design problems.
The tools of design research, writes Brenda Laurel, will allow designers "to claim and direct the power of their profession." Often neglected in the various curricula of design schools, the new models of design research described in this book help designers to investigate people, form, and process in ways that can make their work more potent and more delightful. "At the very least," Peter Lunenfeld writes in the preface, "design research saves us from reinventing the wheel. At its best, a lively research methodology can reinvigorate the passion that so often fades after designers join the profession."
The goal of the book is to introduce designers to the many research tools that can be used to inform design as well as to ideas about how and when to deploy them effectively. The chapter authors come from diverse institutions and enterprises, including Stanford University, MIT, Intel, Maxis, Studio Anybody, Sweden's HUMlab, and Big Blue Dot. Each has something to say about how designers make themselves better at what they do through research, and illustrates it with real world examples—case studies, anecdotes, and images. Topics of this multi-voice conversation include qualitative and quantitative methods, performance ethnography and design improvisation, trend research, cultural diversity, formal and structural research practice, tactical discussions of design research process, and case studies drawn from areas as unique as computer games, museum information systems, and movies. Interspersed throughout the book are one-page "demos," snapshots of the design research experience. Design Research charts the paths from research methods to research findings to design principles to design results and demonstrates the transformation of theory into a richly satisfying and more reliably successful practice.
Brenda Laurel is Chair of the graduate Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and was the co-founder of Purple Moon. She is the author of Utopian Entrepreneur (MIT Press, 2001).
Peter Lunenfeld is Professor of Design Media Arts at UCLA.
...an indispensable resource for everyone in the field.
Bravo! This truly is a remarkable book about one of the most significant design practices of the 21st century. It will push and test your knowledge about the role and the value of design. A must-readif you are serious about redesigning the future.
Clement Mok, Founder, Studio Archetype, and President, American Institute of Graphic Arts
...this is a book to turn your career inside out with serious examination and reflection.
We live in perhaps the most overtly (and, possibly, overly) designed time in human history. Design touches us all, regardless of career, country, or social status. If you want to understand the impact of design on your everyday life, the ways in which design research can make you a more effective creator of designed artifacts, or the ways in which those artifacts can best be brought to consumers, the essays collected in Brenda Laurel's Design Research are a great place to start. Whether you make things, sell things, study things, or use things, Laurel's latest offers a unique and powerful historical, analytical, personal, and practical overview of this vital field.