SIG Discourses in Design: project

Design Research Society – Special Interest group on Discourse in Design

While in the field of Beaux-Arts, there is a tradition of critical discourse about the principles of art, the value of art, the assessment of specific artefacts, there is an obvious lack of critical discourses discussing the presuppositions and conditions of design. Hence a lack of public debate about what constitutes meaningful designs.

We need to observe three levels of meaning making processes. First how different actors, critics, journalists, but also designers and users, make sense of design objects and practices; second what are the discourses that circulate; third how they discourses stabilize in institutions of design.
Meaning making, discourses and structures of discourses can be analyzed in the field of glass & ceramics, furniture and interiors, textiles and fashion (what is the balance between technicality, auctoriality, artistry?), graphic design (how is it related to visual cultures?) industrial design (is there an emphasis on control of processes or creative production?), but also education (how do design teachers qualify their students’ work?), in computer science and electrical engineering (what criteria do HCI researchers use to rate their interfaces?), in the field of museums and exhibitions (how are design conservation and design education goals expressed?). These discourses in various fields of study and design domains are important to examine, but we must also consider the discourses at home and everyday life. What are the places where these discourses have to be explicit? What are the structures of these discourses (for instance do they follow the traditional professional structure: examination – diagnosis – cure?) Who are the interlocutors involved? What kind of design literacies are shown and expressed by the different stakeholders?

Goals of the SIG Discourse in Design
The short term aim is to create an instrument that brings people from various discourses in contact with each other. The long-term aims are: 1) to provide an overview of these discourses; 2) to map their compatibilities and incompatibilities; 3) to explore their etiology and consequences; and 4) to produce materials that can be used in design education.