The Paradoxes of Design: the Artificial, the Instrumental/Scientific, and the Critical
Clive introduces us to three key issues in design and what it might mean for PhD education.
There are 3 key issues germane to the PhD in design. The first is the substantive question of the artificial as the horizon and medium of our times and the relationship of design to this watershed development (ca.1945-2005). The second is the tension between those who want to use research to attempt to model design scientifically and those who are more inclined to the use of critical theory as a tool to open design practices and implications to reflection. The third is the perennial and un-solved problem of the knowledge that is created through the PhD in design: knowledge about design; knowledge for design; more contentiously, knowledge from or through design. This concerns the kinds of knowledge that can perhaps only be won from or through design and its import - in understanding practice and the artificial world as a whole.
In so far as they are reflected upon at all within design education, we keep these issues apart. But we might want to argue that not only are these the unavoidable issues that lurk in the background of every research proposal, but that design will come to maturity as a moment of knowledge and understanding only when it solves the issue of the interrelation of these three questions.
Clive Dilnot is Professor of Design Studies at Parsons School of Design in New York; he also teaches in the dept. of philosophy in New School for Social Research. Originally educated as a fine artist, with graduate work in social philosophy, he has worked on the history, theory and criticism of the visual arts in the wide sense, in fields ranging from aesthetics, art history and architecture to photography, but has focused mainly in the areas of design history, criticism and theory. Recent work includes issues in ethics; on the critical in design; on design knowledge; and on the artificial. Emerging work is on the role of design capabilities in helping us learn how we might avoid some of the potentially catastrophic possibilities contained in the technological and economic systems we have bound ourselves to.