Invitation to speak at Draw #5 on Creative Research Methods

The task to speak about creative research methods for Design Research and Writing (DRaW #5) at Monash University, required me to understand the methods I employ and articulate them to an audience. Preparation for the session enabled me to develop a deeper understanding of my practice through practice. Composing a visual narrative in the form of a presentation was a way to transform my implicit understanding of creative research methods into explicit knowledge. Visualising the intangible, articulating my thoughts and facilitated discussion post presentation all served to affirm that the mixed method approach I employ is a creative research method.

It was suggested that I present something I’d previously shown called Blind Spot. However, I choose not to represent this narrative as it didn’t explicitly address the session theme. In this case of DRaW #5 the main requirements were;

– focus on Creative Research Methods
– discuss your experience with the topic for approximately 10 minutes
– respond to questions and participate in an expanded discussion lead by the moderator
Note: It doesn’t specify a slideshow presentation is required.

From the onset, the task to speak at DRaW may appear relatively straight forward, e.g., prepare a visual narrative and articulate this to the audience. This approach takes for granted knowledge acquired from seeing examples from previously attending DRaW, and it also assumes that the slideshow framework is appropriate and relevant.

Questioning is how I respond to any brief — I use this approach to acknowledge the defined and the ambiguous, and ultimately it helps add breadth and depth to the task.

Searching for the unspecified

Producing the unexpected is the designer’s task according to many. We are asked to reach beyond the brief and develop innovative solutions. There are some strategies designers may employ to do this. An approach I use in my design practice is to review the task and look for what isn’t specified or the potential loop-holes. Briefs can be restrictive spaces, and this technique helps me establish an open mindset that can focus on possibilities rather than limitations. Seeking to find, understand and exploit the unspecified is often dependent on one’s original mindset. The surrounding conditions together with the right mindset means the clearly defined or ambiguous can generate impetus for questioning, exploration and experimentation. Using this strategy is by no means the magic bullet to developing innovative solutions, but it highlights what may be overlooked, provides greater clarity and motivates me personally — so in that sense it’s a win.

Defining Design

I am part of the WonderLab PhD cohort which is researching Design and Learning. You would assume as a collective we would have a common understanding of what is Design means, however, in reality, every person holds a nuanced view of what it encompasses and what it excludes. Could this be a call for each researcher to articulate what they mean by Design in the context of their research? Or, as a cohort do we establish what the term Design means in the context of WonderLab?

How do we form this common understanding?