Design Journey of
SELF-DISCOVERY, IMAGINATION AND CREATIVITY
|Designerly Ways of Knowing (Part 1)|
Knowledge of what is doesn't open the door directly to what should be.
Condensed version of the articles "Design intelligence: the use of codes and language systems in design" (Anita Cross. DESIGN STUDIES, Vol. 7 N? 1, January 1986), "The nature and nurture of design ability" and "Designerly ways of knowing" (Nigel Cross. DESIGN STUDIES, Vol. 11 N° 3 July 1990 & Vol. 3 N° 4 October 1982).
The following text aims to contribute to establish some theoretical bases for treating Design as a coherent discipline of study, in the context of Western Education. Such an acceptance must imply a reorientation from the instrumental aims of conventional Design Education, toward intrinsic values. These values derive from what Nigel Cross, from the Open University (United Kingdom) has named 'designerly' ways of knowing (1). A case is therefore made for design ability as a fundamental form of human intelligence. Because of a common concern with these fundamental ways of knowing, both design research and design education are contributing to the development of design as a discipline:
outcome of the Royal College of Art's research project on 'Design in general
education' was the restatement of a belief in a missing 'third area of
education' (2). The two already-established areas can be broadly classified
as education in the sciences and education in the arts, or humanities.
These 'two cultures' of the Arts and the Sciences have long been recognized
as dominating our social, cultural and educational systems. However, Technology,
centered on design ability, can be viewed as a third culture, with its
own things to know, ways of knowing them, and ways of finding out about
In most cases, it is easier to contrast the Sciences and the Humanities (e.g. objectivity versus subjectivity, experiment versus analogy) than it is to identify the relevant comparable concepts in Design. This is perhaps an indication of the paucity of our language and concepts in the 'Third Culture', rather than any acknowledgement that it does not really exist in its own right. As A.N. Whitehead suggested, "There are three main roads along which we can proceed with good hope of advancing towards the best balance of intellect and character: these are the way of literacy culture, the way of scientific culture, the way of technical culture. No one of these methods can be exclusively followed without grave loss of intellectual activity and of character." (5)
The knowledge, values and skills of these three cultures can be distinguished as follows:
Type of skills:
From the RCA report, the following conclusions can be drawn on the nature of "Design with a capital D":
path to Design as a discipline is concentrated on understanding those
general features of design activity that are common to all the design
professions: it has been concerned with 'design in general' -which now
allows us to generalize at least a little about the 'designerly' ways
of knowing-, and it leads us to consider what it is that can be generalized
as of intrinsic value in learning to design. The education path to Design
as a discipline forces us to consider the nature of this general subject
of Design, what it is that we are seeking to develop in the individual
student, and how this development can be structured for learning.
design teachers have been practicing designers who pass on their knowledge,
skills and values through a process of apprenticeship. Design students
'act out' the role of designer in small projects, and are tutored in the
process by more experienced designers. These design teachers are firstly
designers, and only secondly and incidentally teachers. This model may
be defensible for Specialist Education, but in General Education all teachers
are (or should be) firstly teachers, and only secondly, if at all, specialists
in any field.
If you want to read Part 2, click here
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© Silvia Austerlic 2001