Design expertise, practices and affordance

Department of Industrial Design Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings - Design Research Society 2012: Bangkok, 2012, pp. 1174 - 1189
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The work reported in this paper is based on a study that adopts a naturalistic qualitative approach to the study of design expertise. The study explores the 'designer's talk' as a site for the articulation and dissemination of design expertise. Theoretical resources adopted in the study were drawn from a model of expertise developed by Hubert Dreyfus and from a wide body of phenomenological literature that informed this model. The Dreyfus model is based on a practice oriented account of agency and perception that offers a viable alternative to the cognitivist models of design expertise. The research discussed in this paper forms part of a larger study that seeks to identify a basic unit of analysis appropriate to working with the Dreyfus model. Two related analytic constructs - 'responsiveness' and 'affordance' - have emerged as central to defining this unit of analysis. 'Affordance' is a term coined by James J. Gibson to draw attention to the first person experience of the way in which action possibilities are opened up for the agent by configurations in the environment. This paper explores the relationship between Gibson's original concept of affordance, and the way in which it might be developed in the light of the practice oriented accounts of agency and action that underpin the Dreyfus model of expertise. Issues of intersubjectivity and the practicalities of coding for individual instances of 'responsiveness' and 'affordance' are discussed with reference to data drawn from the transcripts of formal presentations delivered by graphic designers David Carson and Stefan Sagmeister.
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