Academic Design: Towards a definition in a product design context

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Fostering design-led innovation capabilities, 2019, pp. 107 - 114
Issue Date:
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The TU/e 2013 inaugural lecture by Kees Dorst presents the formation of Academic Design as an emerging, new practice that differs from design practice and traditional research practice – a form of design that ‘sits between the field of design practice / problem solving (in the real world) and the field of academic discussion’. Building on his definition, this paper attempts to develop a further definition of the term by studying Academic Design practice at the University of Technology Sydney, which launched its new Integrated Product Design, Honours Course in the School of Design, in 2016. The course has been designed by academics in the Integrated Product Design Program to facilitate self-initiated product design projects with the key objective of setting knowledge directives and applying theoretical frameworks through Constructive Design Research. A case study of a capstone project completed for the Degree is articulated through an operational framework that makes relevant, the role of hypothesis-making and motivational contexts in Constructive Design Research. Further, the presence of the key features of Academic Design demonstrated in the case study, are able to be located and described in terms of this operational framework and other research that explicates certain forms of Constructive Design Research practice, thereby enabling us to move closer toward defining Academic Design. Significantly, the course may represent a workable structure for the conduct of Academic Design in (advanced-level) product design education, and as such, could be extended, through further research, to define Academic Design in other product design contexts.
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