Discursive constructions of design and implications for engineering education

Year: 2013
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Premer Petersen, Rikke
Series: ICED
Institution: Aalborg University, Denmark
Page(s): 085-094
ISBN: 978-1-904670-51-3
ISSN:  2220-4334


Recognition of design discourses at play in professional practice is key when discussing ways to reintroduce designerly ways in engineering education.

This paper outlines three design discourses discussed in literature and mirroring contemporary design practice: Viewing ‘design as art’ upholds traditional ties to the arts and craft tradition, where individual designers work with tangible form and aesthetics. Perceiving ‘design as problem solving’ focuses on the process viewed as a collective search for solutions. In ‘design as dialogue’ this is extended to a reflective practice where the designer is co-developing problem and solution.

From these discourses we learn that different professions practice and interpret design differently. No one discourse can capture all perspectives of the heterogeneous design notion, but instead highlight diverse qualities of good design practice.

Based on the discourses discussed, three key elements of design are highlighted: the materiality, the social, and the reflective sides of designing. All of these elements are represented in the issues of communication, which can be a central focus area when taking a designerly turn in engineering practice.

Keywords: Design discourse, design education, design engineering, communication


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