Design Research: Aesthetic Epistemology and Explanatory Knowledge

Peter Murphy
2017 She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics and Innovation  
The article explores the "what" and the "how" of design research. It discusses the epistemological assumptions of design and design research-the conception of true knowledge that underpins the quest to advance design knowledge through research. The article also examines the media and methods of doing design research-that is, the "how" of such research. As it developed over the past century, the design field has drawn extensively on three pivotal but often tacitly deployed epistemologies: the
more » ... tonic-Aristotelian, the pragmatic, and the postmodern. Platonic epistemology is latent in many commonplace design instruction texts. Pragmatic epistemology underscores the industrial-arts ethos of design. Postmodern epistemologies dominate in university programs-especially graduate and Ph.D. programs. The article considers how these competing epistemologies understand the role of imagination in the act of creation. The article then considers the role of explanation in the carrying out of research in creative design and arts fields. It addresses whether, and to what degree, design research ought to rely on explanatory words as its principal medium of research, or whether it is valid to substitute artifactual creation for intellectual explanation in the research process.
doi:10.1016/j.sheji.2017.09.002 fatcat:baxkuhrjxve5hoqjz67qe6u4pe