Design Research: Sharing is Necessary

Research is only as good as the mechanism by which it is shared and tested. [“Making a Case for Design Research”] The exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt [Universal Design] was perhaps a design inspiration, but it did not provide information on the research questions, methods, or findings that would allow a designer or design researcher to use the information, test it, and add to the knowledge.

I am glad that Jane Langmuir was able to build on her experience for John Hockenberry; I am sorry that Maytag is sitting on the information that would benefit others.

Some people with disabilities criticized the Unlimited by Design kitchen for being beyond the financial means of many. A logical follow-up to this concern would be to test how the kitchen could be built more economically, or to establish a “return on investment” guide on its different elements.

The AIA has tried for years to establish a mechanism for sharing research. Perhaps it is time to examine the larger issues of why architecture is taught without addressing how design can be research if the inquiry is rigorous, shared, and open to review by others: the model used by most other professions and practices.

Thanks to Metropolis for raising these provocative issues.

Polly Welch
Project Manager for Facility Evaluation
Division of Capital Asset Management
Commonwealth of Massachusetts

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