Design Epistemology









Mapping design knowledge: 36 years of Design Studies 

Kathryn Burns, Jack Ingram, Louise Annable

Birmingham City University, UK (3)

Keywords: design research; design knowledge; design theory; epistemology


This paper examines the nature of design research, knowledge and theory, as revealed through an overview of the areas of interest that make up published writing on design, specifically that published in Design Studies, since its first publication in 1979. The research proposes a taxonomy of design knowledge addressing the objects, processes and practices of design and consumption. This is used as the basis to trace the history and development of design ideas and design writing over the following 36 years through classifying the issues that are central to the published papers published in Design Studies, and quantifying the changes of emphasis in design topics over that period. The paper offers proposals for the areas within which design theory resides, suggests that until a mature design epistemology evolves the concept of epistemics is a more appropriate term and reflects on the relationship between design research, knowledge, theory and practice. 

This paper is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence.

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Cite this paper: Burns, K., Ingram, J., Annable, L. (2016). Mapping Design Knowledge: 36 years of Design Studies.  Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30 June 2016.

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