SDApractice

Dialectic and Inquiry in Design: Understanding Surroundings and Systems, Designing Environments

Richard Buchanan

Dialectic and Inquiry are two well-established strategies of design practice as well as design theory and research. Dialectic is the art of finding and interpreting systems in the relationships and interrelationships of our surroundings. In contrast, inquiry is the art of transforming surroundings into environments for human thought and action.

The intersection of these two arts is the theme of this presentation. To make the theme concrete, the focus is on John Dewey’s Democracy and Education, a book that is well-known in the context of progressive education. It has influenced all levels of education in places as different as the United States and China and across many disciplines. It is the foundation text of education as inquiry, encouraging creative thinking in the study of what is known and what is unknown. In the context of this presentation, however, the argument of Dewey’s book will be explored as a rhetorical inquiry into society and the role of design in encouraging new social and cultural practices.

In the course of my presentation, I will discuss different kinds of systems and how design contributes to the invention and discovery of new systems. The intersection of dialectic and inquiry is fertile ground for exploring new dimensions of design practice and theory in the complexity of contemporary life.

Profile

Richard Buchanan, PhD, is well known for extending the application of design into new areas of theory and practice, writing, and teaching as well as practicing the concepts and methods of interaction design. He argues that interaction design does not stop at the flatland of the computer screen but extends into the personal and social life of human beings and into the emerging area of service design, as well as into organizational and management design.

In keeping with this conviction, Buchanan has worked on the redesign of the Australian Taxation System, the restructuring of service products and information for the U.S. Postal Service, and other consulting activities. At Weatherhead, he has researched “collective interactions”, focusing on problems of organizational change and the development of management education around the concept of Manage by Designing. His most recent projects involve strategy and service design, including patient experience, information services, and public sector design.

Buchanan is a widely published author and frequent speaker. His books include Discovering Design: Explorations in Design Studies, The Idea of Design, and Pluralism in Theory and Practice. He is co-editor of Design Issues, the international journal of design history, theory and criticism. Buchanan has served for two terms as president of the Design Research Society, the international learned society of the design research community.

He received his AB and PhD from a prestigious interdisciplinary program at the University of Chicago called the Committee on the Analysis of Ideas and the Study of Methods. Before joining the Weatherhead School of Management faculty in 2008, he served as head of the school of design and then as director of doctoral studies in design at Carnegie Mellon University. While at Carnegie Mellon, he inaugurated interaction design programs at the masters and doctoral level.

In 2009, Buchanan received an honorary doctorate from the Faculté de l’amánagement (Environmental Design Faculty) at the University of Montréal.

PhD, The University of Chicago, 1973
AB, The University of Chicago, 1968

SDASpeakers

Olivetti Makes – Design. Industry. Society.

Olivetti Makes – Design. Industry. Society.

The design approach and tools used by companies and practitioners are discussed. The book is of interest to professionals working in design, industry, government, NGO, and researchers.

Policy Design and Decision Making

Policy Design and Decision Making

RSD7 Keynote. Chelsea Mauldin: I propose that designers engaged in policy and systems change design new, adjacent policy systems, recognize the primacy and requirements of the human body, and more consciously identify and address imbalances in power in the systems in which we intercede.

Re-designing the Framework: Think natural, think local

Re-designing the Framework: Think natural, think local

RSD7 Keynote. Gunter Pauli: From energy production to soil analysis, we have to change the dogmas we are working with, we have to change the business models and the hypothesis we are believing. What can we do better? How can we design a better way forward?

Systemic Design Approaches in the Public Sector: Are we ready?

Systemic Design Approaches in the Public Sector: Are we ready?

RSD6 Keynote. Sabine Junginger: So overwhelming is the intricate web of laws, rules, and regulations in a highly hierarchical and political landscape that those working under intense time pressure rarely get time to reflect on their design approaches.

RSD 10 Call for Papers

RSD10 offers a platform for discussing ongoing work with peers and presents the state-of-the-art in the systemic design field. This year there are two paper tracks: short papers for ongoing work, and long papers for finished work.

More information RSD10.org.

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