Design with a Thousand Faces: Design-Led Methods for the Social Science Research Community

By Viveka Turnbull Hocking.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Design as a profession emerged out of the industrial revolution. However, the word ‘design’ has been around much longer and describes an activity that we as humans all do and have done for some time. In this paper a clear distinction is made between uppercase ‘Design’ as the profession verses lowercase ‘design’ as the activity in order to highlight the notion of ‘a thousand faces’ as the many uses, meanings and applications of the activity of design independent of the field of Design. The paper starts from the premise that although design may have many ‘faces’ there is an overriding commonality in a process concerned primarily with generating ‘what could be’ rather than ‘what is’. From this premise the paper poses the question - ‘what, if any, role could the field of Design have in contributing to the activity of design in other disciplines?’- in order to initiate a conversation about why design might be of significant value to the research community. To engage in such a dialogue the paper offers some insights into the characteristics of design: what it is, how it is done and why it might be of significant value. The paper outlines the nature of academic Design research and the design-led methods that are emerging in order to propose possibilities for designs value in the research community. The paper suggests that sustainability is one such issue in which design as research may be of use, however there is a need for design to be made more accessible by clearly articulating design as a kind of research methodology. It concludes by opening up the question for social scientists to consider what, if any, contribution the Design field may have to their discipline.

Keywords: Interdisciplinary Research Methods, Design, Design-Led Methodology

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.484MB).

Viveka Turnbull Hocking

PhD Candidate, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Human Ecology Department, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Viveka studied at the University of New South Wales in Zoology, Philosophy and Design, graduating with a Bachelor of Design with honours. She is now conducting her PhD with the Australian National University, looking at design-led methods for sustainability research. Viveka convenes the Creative Research Discussion Group and is also a Lecturer and Tutor for the School of Design and Architecture at the University of Canberra and at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University.

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