Practice-based and material focused: a craft approach to teaching design intuition
Inder, S; Reay, S
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Successful collaborative design harmonizes diverse inputs from disciplines with often contrasting paradigms (Reay & Withell, 2013). Designers must respond to these challenges using both objective and subjective, quantitative and qualitative methods of research and analysis (Cross, 2001). The use of more tangible, quantitative methods to elicit evidence based functional design solutions has a long history. A designer’s tacit knowledge or intuition (Douglass & Moustakas, 1985) used to interpret less tangible, ill definable aspects of qualitative research for consideration in the designed outcome, requires education and experience. A craft or artisan design approach requires a substantial investment of designer’s intuition to realise functionally and aesthetically meaningful outcomes (Kälviäinen, 2000). In order to develop student’s design intuition in the Product Design Department at AUT University, we have developed assessments and engaged with expert practicing artisans to exploit their intuition driven approach to inspire and educate students on intangible aspects of design. This paper will discuss an undergraduate project and assessment that utilised an artisanal, practice-based design approach aimed at developing deeper understanding of form, materials and aesthetic and to generate ‘accidental learning’ (Notar & Padgett, 2010) outcomes through experimentation. We will describe how the assignment culminated in a curated exhibition of designed artefacts, delivering an authentic-learning (Rule, 2006) experience that students describe as being intensive, aspirational and engaging. Individual case studies will be presented describing successful responses to the assessment. Finally we will describe difficulties students faced by moving from alternative process models, such as a structured ‘design thinking’ (Brown, 2008) focused project or traditional technology driven model, into a more experimental ‘design making’ approach.