Talks and Poster Presentations (without Proceedings-Entry):

F. Glock:
"Descriptions for Reflections on the Reflective Turn in Design Research";
Talk: 4S / Easst, 2008, Rotterdam; 2008-08-20 - 2008-08-23.

English abstract:
The Study
The presentation will report a case study of the development and design of a medical device
- an epi-luminescence microscope for dermatological skin inspection. The device takes a
digital picture of skin lesions to be magnified and displayed on a monitor as well as
electronically stored and amenable to image processing and computer aided diagnosing. The
project was carried out in a research organization. Various experts from the organization -
physicist (project leader), mechanical and software engineers, etc. - and externals -
dermatologist (inventor of the basic idea and client), industrial designer, etc. - participated in
the project.
Data gathering included participant observation and video recordings of meetings and design
session, collecting drawings and other documents produced in the process, etc.
The study has adopted an interpretative approach and deploys concepts from design
research and STS. Design processes are conceived as social processes of interpretation
and are described in terms of interaction - between participants and between actors and nonhuman
`materials of the situation´. Design work in this view appears as interpretation and
generation of design goals in sequences of context bound and context generating design
moves. Analysis attempts to reconstruct how interpretation is achieved by
designers/participants in the particular design process and to describe the (interpretative)
practices and routines actors use.
In designing artifacts designers simultaneously affect, intervene in, or generate future
contexts of production, assembly, etc., and contexts of use; it will be demonstrated in the
presentation how mechanical engineers, for example, in designing the mechanics of the
device also design strips of activities of the future users (dermatologists) of the artifact which
in turn appear consequential for the relationship between physician and patient in the future
diagnostic situation. Engineering designers are `engineer sociologists´ who also `configure
the user´.
`Acting with´ results & the `Reflective Turn´
An interpretative approach does not aim to add another more sophisticated method to
elucidate the "true" needs of the users, etc. or to find general rules which could be
hierarchically "applied" for the improvement of the design process. It aims to describe the
(system of) frameworks and practices which serve as the background for interpretations in particular design processes. The researchers present the research results to the designer
team of the investigated design process as a kind of `mirror´ to focus their attention on their
background of interpretation, which is taken for granted, and the transparent routines of their
everyday design work. Frameworks (in Bateson´s / Goffman´s sense), habits of perception,
routines, etc. are made `visible´ through descriptions of the researcher and may stimulate
designers reflection on the understandings built into the skillful actions of everyday practice.
Research results may help designers / participants to notice how they actively construct the
reality of their practice and become aware of their tacit frames and of a variety of frames
which might be available for them. Reflective discourse opens up the possibility for `context
learning´, that is, a change of frameworks which will also result in a change or innovation of
designed products.

design studies, reflective turn

Electronic version of the publication:

Created from the Publication Database of the Vienna University of Technology.