Designers contribute to the society not only through the products, services, and systems that they design, but also through the methods that they use to design those outcomes. Most of the design methods that students learn as part of the IDE curriculum are new for the creative industries. This means that, when students graduate, they are able to introduce a large repertoire of research-based and innovative design methods and tools to the organisations they work for.
In practice, design methods are rarely implemented as they are ‘written on paper’ in creative practices. Mixing and matching different methods and adapting them to the needs of a specific project are among the core skills of a future designer. This can only happen if students have, at least, a basic repertoire of design methods and know what the rationale underlying each method is.
Therefore, it is important for a designer to be able to reflect on questions such as:
- What are the designerly ways of knowing? (quoting Cross (1982), see below for the reference)
- What are the underlying values and principles for prominent design methods?
- What are the benefits and limitations of using one method over the other?
Only through addressing these questions, designers can make informed choices about which methods to use and when. This course is designed to give students a first impression of various traditions in conceptual, human-centred design methods. Students will get first-hand experiences with implementing these methods in short design assignments.
The overall goal is to stimulate critical thinking and becoming reflective design practitioners who are not only focused on achieving excellent design outcomes, but also making informed design decisions that they can articulate and communicate professionally.
Form of education
Practical and interactive. The sessions will consist of interactive lectures, group exercises, debates, reading discussions, and workshops. Apart from participating in these practicals, students will work individually on a reflective essay and on short group assignments.
The assessment consists of an individual assignment (reflective essay) and a group assignment. The assessment for the group assignment will be on a scale from 1 to 10 and will contribute 80% to the final course grade. The assessment for the individual assignment will be on a scale from 1 to 10 and it will contribute an additional 20% to the final course grade.
The individual and group assignments should at least receive a score of 5. If the score of either the individual or the group assignment is between 4 and 5, the student or the group gets one chance at revising the assignment in order to upgrade this score. The overall final grade (individual + group grade) should at least be a 5,5 on a 1 tot 10 scale in order to successfully complete the course.
The assessment criteria for each assignment will be communicated in the first session of the course.
The course is open to all IDE master tracks, ITECH students, and ATLAS students with a human-centred design focus. Exchange students and students from other disciplinary backgrounds can contact Dr. Jelle van Dijk to check whether they have appropriate prior knowledge to enroll in the course.
Relations to other courses
The students will be introduced to three methodological traditions in human-centred design research: participatory design, phenomenology, and critical design/futuring. In fact, students briefly learn about these methods in other master courses; therefore, this course will help ground this prior knowledge within a deeper understanding of method-usage in design. As a result, this course relates to;
- Human-product relations (IDE BSc Module 5)
- Design for specific users (IDE BSc Module 7)
- Value sensitive design (IDE BSc Module 11)
- Create the future (IDE MSc course)
- Design histories (IDE MSc course)
In addition, this course forms a methodological basis for future MSc courses, such as Design for Behaviour Change and Embodied Interactions, in the IDE MSc curriculum.
Suggested reading before the course starts
Enthusiastic students can read the following articles before joining the course:
- Cross, N. (2001). Designerly ways of knowing: Design discipline versus design science. Design issues, 17(3), 49-55.
- Buchanan, R. (2001). Design research and the new learning. Design issues, 17(4), 3-23.
- Lloyd, P. (2019). You make it and you try it out: Seeds of design discipline futures. Design Studies, 65, 167-181.
And a book tip for those who want to acquire a deeper knowledge of design research methodologies:
- Koskinen, I., Zimmerman, J., Binder, T., Redstrom, J., & Wensveen, S. (2011). Design research through practice: From the lab, field, and showroom. Elsevier.