Design is about divergent and convergent thinking. It requires ideas to be synthesized and unresolved ideas be let go of.  It’s as though the design process tacitly irons things out — fixing them so they appear consistent, correct and permanent, complete and finished. I face onto-epistemological challenge as I believe that we must fix and unfix things, control and let go, accept impermanence and permanence and learn that being and doing are entwined.

What happens to design if we accept the paradox of the temporary and the fixed? Are we more likely to see everything as a practice with no set beginning and end? Does our fixation with the artefact become less relevant? Could this better equip designers to accept uncertainty?And, how might this influence the way designers communicate their processes?

I shift towards design being a practice that is emergent, uncertain, situated continuous, relational, collaborative, agile, respectful, ethical, speculative, authentic, dialogical, negotiated and critical.


A. Do you break the rules to learn the rules?
B. Learn the rules to break the rules?
C. Learn the rules to follow the rules?
D .Which rules or who’s rules do you follow?
E. All of the above


Our world is changing rapidly and each of us has the capacity to influence these changes. How can adopting a learner mindset help us respond to constant change? Learning and design sit at the core of this study — therefore it’s relevant to simultaneously look at learning theory, established pedagogical practices and conjunction with my own design oriented methodology. Through a cross-pollination of methodologies the research seeks to generate its own nuanced method for facilitating reciprocal learning. The research topic stems from my current practice which has been shaped by my experience and ignorance. The research seeks to transform my tacit ways of practicing, to theories that can be shared or adapted to design pedagogy more broadly and to professional practice. To share this method with any confidence the research needs to uncover the blinds spots and biases of this practice, discover its strengths/weaknesses and establish what it affords. The research methodology that emerges seeks authenticity, so clarifying the onto-epistemo-methodological is vital. A crude way of saying this would be the approach is about embracing simplicity and complexity warts and all.

Contextualising the research

Contextualizing the research through multiple channels will be an ongoing process. This critical and analytical activity is aimed at defining the scope of the inquiry, as well as establishing the state of existing and relevant knowledge base to date. (Malins J, Gray C). It also serves to situate the design research in relation to other design researchers in the field. Given the research must be an original contribution to knowledge contextualizing and situating the research is of primary importance. A thorough and sustained contextual review is perhaps the only way to assess whether the research covers the unchartered territory.

The initial literature was more of an onboarding process to the Phd. The review was expansive, skimming the surface of many areas but it lacked focus. It broadly looked to better understand academic research as a field of study, the design discipline, collaboration, facilitation, and improvisation. However, the lack of focus meant the reading lacked purpose. To date I’ve mostly tracked this uncertain process using self-reflection, writing and visualization — these methods helped me to thread my autobiographical story to the field of design research and space to simply chase curiosity.