Research-oriented Projects on Design Themes – A Master Semester at AAU
Editor: Kovacevic, Ahmed, Ion, William, McMahon, Chris, Buck, Lyndon and Hogarth, Peter
Author: Tollestrup, Christian; Eriksen, Kaare; Ovesen, Nis
Section: New Design Paradigms
How can design students do research-oriented projects about design themes? At the 3rd semester at the Industrial Design Master Program at Aalborg University, this is done by taking research-oriented learning objectives on design theories and methods and combining them with experimental case studies with or without external parties like companies and consultancies. Programming the project is a large part of the 2-month long project work and a 'program' is handed in and evaluated after 3 weeks. During this programming, the design students are going through a pre-reflection process, where they are designing the setup including the experiment or case that they will be carrying out. This approach shares characteristics of a regular research project, but the extent and level of complexity is much lower and the experiment and case is the larger part of the project. At the other end of the project the analysis and discussion of the project is also significantly less in extent and complexity. This paper will use four case projects to demonstrate the variety and range of projects carried out under this research-oriented semester called "Research & Strategy". Even with a variety in extent, context and structure they all meet the learning objectives and the output of the projects are beyond ordinary design proposals: instead they are centred on methodological issues and suggestions for improvements, providing collaborating partners with valuable insight and feedback. At the same time the scientific attiude and professional self-reflection amongst students are improved.