Let’s Get Divorced: Pragmatic and Critical Constructive Design Research Open Access Deposited

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Date Uploaded: 11/17/2017
Date Modified: 02/02/2018

Over the last two decades, constructive design research (CDR) — also known as Research through Design — has become an accepted mode of scholarly inquiry within the design research community. CDR is a broad term encompassing almost any kind of research that uses design action as a mode of inquiry. It has been described as having three distinct genres: lab, field, and showroom. The lab and field genres typically take a pragmatic stance, making things as a way of investigating what preferred futures might be. In contrast, research done following the showroom approach (more commonly known as critical design (CD), speculative design, or design fictions) offers a polemic and sometimes also a critique of the current state embodied in an artifact. Recently, we have observed a growing conflict within the design research community between pragmatic and critical researchers. To help reduce this conflict, we call for a divorce between CD and pragmatic CDR. We clarify how CDR and CD exist along a continuum. We conclude with suggestions for the design research community, about how each unique research approach can be used singly or in combination, and how they can push the boundaries of academic design research in new collaboration with different disciplines.

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Identifier: doi:10.7945/C22Q3C

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