MH: Des Research & Methods

This course is designed to introduce students to a range of design research strategies and methodological approaches and to prepare students for Thesis. In addition to weekly seminar meetings, each student will undertake a research project that could form the basis of the Thesis project. Readings will be drawn from the fields of design studies, film studies, media studies, art history, architecture, and anthropology. Not only will students gain an understanding of diverse design research strategies, they will also examine these evolving methodologies within a historical framework, situating them within the history of design and the broader lens of visual culture.

What do designers need to know in order to navigate successfully from idea to artifact? This course addresses the knowledge set that guides the journey between scholarship and practice, knowing and making. The ability to conduct productive and rigorous research in service of an idea is one that is required for designers across all disciplines. For design work to be engaging, research and making should be contemporaneous activities, changing in level of detail as work progresses towards completion and as demands emerge for increased specificity. The following topics will be addressed: the role of a hypothesis, how we frame questions and structure arguments, how we state research objectives, how we gather information, how we confront bias in problem definition, how we understand audience, and how we evaluate the complex issues of visual representation in design. Both qualitative and quantitative methods are used as students investigate inter- and intra-disciplinary projects across cultures, at various scales of size, and over time. Supported by readings on the topics covered, students will research, write, and design as mutually informing activities, rather than as linear and independent parts of the design process. The intent is to provide designers with the critical skills to make extraordinary utilitarian and/or aesthetic artifacts, services, and experiences and develop competencies to bring work to their audience