Design Knowledge Intermediary
Design Research: Methods and Perspectives

By Brenda Laurel, Peter Lunenfeld
Published by The MIT Press (October 1, 2003)

Pages 334
Price $28

The tools of design research, writes Brenda Laurel, will allow designers "to claim and direct the power of their profession." Often neglected in the various curricula of design schools, the new models of design research described in this book help designers to investigate people, form, and process in ways that can make their work more potent and more delightful. "At the very least," Peter Lunenfeld writes in the preface, "design research saves us from reinventing the wheel. At its best, a lively research methodology can reinvigorate the passion that so often fades after designers join the profession." The goal of the book is to introduce designers to the many research tools that can be used to inform design as well as to ideas about how and when to deploy them effectively. The chapter authors come from diverse institutions and enterprises, including Stanford University, MIT, Intel, Maxis, Studio Anybody, Sweden?s HUMlab, and Big Blue Dot. Each has something to say about how designers make themselves better at what they do through research, and illustrates it with real world examples--case studies, anecdotes, and images. Topics of this multi-voice conversation include qualitative and quantitative methods, performance ethnography and design improvisation, trend research, cultural diversity, formal and structural research practice, tactical discussions of design research process, and case studies drawn from areas as unique as computer games, museum information systems, and movies. Interspersed throughout the book are one-page "demos," snapshots of the design research experience. Design Research charts the paths from research methods to research findings to design principles to design results and demonstrates the transformation of theory into a richly satisfying and more reliably successful practice.

". . . an indispensable resource for everyone in the field."
— I.D.

"...this is a book to turn your career inside out with serious examination and reflection."
— Book Bytes

"Bravo! This truly is a remarkable book about one of the most significant design practices of the 21st century. It will push and test your knowledge about the role and the value of design. A must-read if you are serious about redesigning the future."
-Clement Mok, Founder, Studio Archetype, and President, American Institute of Graphic Arts



Preface: The Design Cluster
Introduction: Muscular Design


Section Introduction: The Changing Role of Research
Qualitative Methods: From Boring to Brilliant
Ethnography and Critical Design Practice
The Paradox of Design Research
Designing for the New Old
Demo: Design Improvisation
Hispanic Culture in Design Research
Overview of Quantitative Methods in Design Research
User Requirements


Section Introduction: Design (As) Research
Speculation, Serendipity and Studio Anybody
Toward a Definition of the Decorational
Demo: DesignWriting
Sensory Anomalies
Spontaneous Cinema as Design Practice
Game Forms for New Outcomes
Strategy, Tactics and Heuristics for Research


Section Introduction: Test Pilots
Bringing Clarity to the "Fuzzy Front End"
Research Methods for Designing Effective Experiences
Enabling Design
Non-Assumptive Research
Play as Research
Demo: Creating a Culture of Design Research
Interdisciplinary Design Research
Conceptual Designs
Moving Your Idea Through Your Organization
Demo: Vibe-Hunting
Living Proof
Research to Fuel the Creative Process


Section Introduction: Reports from the Field
"You Can't Bring That Game to School!"
Social Impact by Design
Researching America's Army
A Virtual Walk on the Moon
Demo: Mobium
Research and the Movies
Real Brand Alignment

Conclusion: Beauty, Brains and Bravery