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Title: (In)tangib/es : sociocultural references in the design process milieu
Author: Strickfaden, Megan
Awarding Body: Edinburgh Napier University
Current Institution: Edinburgh Napier University
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis broadly engages with the design process and design education, but focuses particularly on sociocultural and (in)tangible references that are communicated verbally, visually and textually within the design environment. With the aim of defining references and subsequently understanding the contextualized sociocultural environments ethnographically oriented methods and an interdisciplinary theoretical model are developed and applied to two field studies. This research combines design with cultural anthropology, social psychology and social cognition towards gaining a more holistic viewpoint on design processes. Each empirical field study uses the same research approach, methodology, theoretical framework, and subsequent data analyses and display. The methods include observational techniques, questionnaires to query personal information, and informal interviews to track the design process. Videotape recordings are used to track the in-studio activity and still photography is used to capture the visual communications along with the sociocultural context of the participants. The studies are longitudinal, being six and seven weeks in duration, and follow university level industrial design students and their instructors from the onset of their design brief to the completion of their project. The first study takes place in Scotland in the United Kingdom (UK) where the students are working towards the design of an airline meal tray. The second study takes place in Western Canada and involves the design of sports eyewear. This research defines and describes sociocultural factors as these are identified through references. Sociocultural references include the individual-personal and social-cultural inforrnation that is embedded in an individuals' personal make-up, called here sociocultural capital. How, when and why sociocultural capital is used during the creation of an artefact is of primary interest in this work. Design decisions are made regarding artefact form, overall aesthetics, materials, manufacture, user experience and more. These decisions are made through considering the stakeholders in the project (e.g., instructors, clients, users) and references to these are called tangible because they are easily relatable to the design brief and the well-known documented stages of deSigning. The references that are abstract and have distance from the task at hand are called the intangibles. Sociocultural references are both tangible and intangible but relate specifically to the sociocultural capital of the individuals making them. Patterns, themes and categories about the design process, designing, the individual design students and two educational scenarios including the studio culture and design culture are revealed through the references. This research herein discusses and raises three central ideas as follows: • A theoretical model called the deSign process milieu for understanding the holistic designing scenario including inside-local, inside-universal, outside-local and inside-universal environments. This includes a detailed breakdown of how to use the model including a systematic approach, methods and analyses system. • A definition and description of the nature of (in)tangible references including when and why they are used during the design process. • Detailed descriptions of two design environments including the studio culture and design culture. It is argued in this research that references provide important details about the sociocultural context of the design scenario. Furthermore it is also argued that all things discussed in the design process are meaningful and have the potential to steer the development of an artefact. Therefore, there are substantial implications for this research relating to how design students, educators and designers are affected by the sociocultural contexts enveloping them; what types of sociocultural capital designers use; and to a lesser degree, how, when and why they use their sociocultural capital. The insights from this work result in recommendations for design education, practice and design research in general.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: NC Drawing Design Illustration