Research- “Into,” “For,” or “Through”- Design

November 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

As my master’s thesis research proposal approaches being completed, I’ve been considering exactly what the research aspect can and will be. My research proposal – including question and subquestions, justification, and limitations – will determine the type of research but it helps to have a conceptual model to explore and offer guidance.

Previously, I had heard of design research having three types – “for,” “through” and “of” (rather than “into”) – and had my own mental model of such a concept. Today I came across a blog with nice insight into the types of design research and that uses essentially the same model. It’s helpful to read the thoughts of someone else going through a similar process (design research for their PhD) and see a visual model and accompanying explanation of their understanding.

Although I have not met you, I am going to refer to you by your given name. Thanks, Sheila!

Types and approaches of (Design) research
by Sheila Pontis


Ken + Jen Visocky O’Grady

October 31, 2010 § Leave a comment

On Wednesday, Oct. 27 the husband and wife, tag-team duo of Ken and Jen visited the Herron School of Art + Design auditorium for a speaking engagement. They recently published “A Designer’s Research Manual.” I had a chance to look at the book a few weeks ago and was impressed by the layout and presentation of a sometimes tough topic. Most research-focused books are targeted toward the scientific or scholarly fields so it is nice to see one written for designers, both students and professionals alike. Research is an often overlooked aspect of the visual communications/design process but, as the book description states, “In an increasingly crowded marketplace, embracing research practices will ensure a continued viable role for designers in business.”

I was excited for their appearance and to learn more about their views on design research. Unfortunately, they didn’t really speak about design research. Fortunately, they still gave an interesting presentation, one with valuable information for designers of all ages, and specifically for those transferring from academia to professional practice. Highlights for me included:

  • Design schools breed rock stars. We need more bands.
  • All designers have different skill sets. Know where your strengths are.
  • Maintain a crush list of designers, artists, business people, etc. Identify why you like those on your list and how they became successful. Write your list down. Reach out to them if you can.
  • Your competition may be your ally. Collaborate.
  • Celebrate every single victory. Not just your own.

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