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I am a Designer, why Research? Emphasizing a Methodical Approach for a Value-based Design Practice to Enrich Design Processes

Principal Investigator:

Over the years, design became a popular term in different disciplines ranging from fine arts to industrial practice. Each discipline has shaped the term design through its work practice. Nonetheless, the way how each discipline 'designs' remains non-specific in places. Hence, the challenge arises in providing designers with methodical knowledge to inform their design processes purposefully. For example, academic design education supposedly sticks to its roots focusing on the practical education of designers. While design research is rather considered a partial aspect. However, designers should shift their values to broader considerations of values (e.g., of users) during the design process.

This dissertation takes up this assumption and is motivated by the observation that design education and design practice consider user values more implicitly (e.g., using personas or user journeys). The initial challenge of this work is to create new knowledge from the lenses of research and design to illuminate how a methodical approach unveils values within a design process.

To tackle this challenge, three directions are considered, first, the proposal of "research through design" to ground the contribution of this dissertation in the design discipline and to underline research as a part of design processes. Second, research through design will be informed by methods for identifying values from the theoretically founded approach of "value-sensitive design" and, third, the approach of "reflective design" is used to emphasize collaborative reflection on designer and user values through participation.

The implications derived from each approach will inform the proposed research procedure of this dissertation. This proposed research procedure will be elaborated through three case studies in the field of health data donation, privacy-aware donation of mobility data, and participation in system design. This dissertation aims to gain new insights through value-based design practice emphasizing that design education can be enriched by a profound methodical approach within a design process.