“The natural sciences are concerned with how things are…design on the other hand is concerned with how things ought to be.” – Simon 
According to Wikipedia, Nigel Cross “is a British academic, a design researcher and educator, Emeritus Professor of Design Studies at The Open University, United Kingdom, and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Design Studies. He is one of the key people of the Design Research Society.” He has worked with computer aided design, and worked with early Wizard-of-Oz-Experiments.
In his article ‘Designerly Ways of Knowing’ he starts to explore what is specific to design knowledge, and what is specific to design compared to other scientific knowledge. This and other articles on similar themes were later (2006) published as a book with the same name.
In the article Cross first explore the likeness and difference between design and other (natural) sciences. He then goes on to describes three different approaches to design within the scientific field.
The attempts to describe design within the scientific fields started in the 1920’s, and took mainly a positivist approach, trying to explain science and put it into a system. Cross write: “throughout much of the modern movement, we see a desire to produce works of art and design based on objectivity and rationality, that is, on the values of science.” But he goes on to say that in the 60’s a counterargument was made about science not being explainable through this approach. As design was dealing with “wicked” problems, with no one simple solution the purely ‘scientific’ approach of dealing with “tame” problems where one best solution can be found is not applicable. In this, at least according to the early approaches, there is a fundamental difference between ‘design’ and ‘science’. As an example he quotes Simon: “The natural sciences are concerned with how things are…design on the other hand is concerned with how things ought to be.” He then goes on to show that this leads to a big difference in approach, where method becomes vital to natural sciences, where it validates result by making them repeatable, something neither vital neither desirable to design.
To deal with this unclear relation between science and design different approaches have been taken, and Cross identifies three, which he calls ‘scientific design’, ‘design science’, and ‘a science of design’.
- Scientific Design “refers to modern, industrialized design […] based on scientific knowledge but utilizing s mix of both intuitive and non intuitive design methods”.
- Design Science “refers to an explicitly organized, rational, and wholly systematic approach to design; not just the utilization of scientific knowledge of artifacts, but design in some sense as a scientific activity itself”.
- A Science of Design means to approach design in itself as a subject of scientific investigation. The science of design is the study of design.
Finally Cross promotes design as, not necessarily a science, but a discipline. He says design as a discipline “can mean design studied on its own terms, and within its own rigorous culture. It can mean a science of design based on the reflective practice of design: design as a discipline, but not design as a science.” He says that “what [designers] especially know how to do is the proposing of additions to and changes to the artificial world. Their knowledge, skills, and values lie in the techniques of the artificial.” (as opposed to Simons title, the science of the artificial)
 Nigel Cross, “Designerly Ways of Knowing: Design Discipline Versus Design Science,” Design Issues 17, no. 3 (2001): 49–55, doi:10.1162/074793601750357196.
 Herbert A. Simon, The Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd ed (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1996).
Posted 2014-01-31 - Archived under: - Reply
I am trying to register my blog at Technorati, since they have changes parts of their system. Now they want me to register a claim token (in my case K8JVA35BJVGS ) by writing it in a blog-post as I do now. This seems like a releatively safe way of finding the true owners of a blog, since you need to be logged in both there and in your blog. But it doesn’t look that nice. And since I also autopublish to things like twitter and Facebook it kind of spreads around, even if I don’t have that much to say for the moment.
Basically: I’m sorry for stealing your time for this message. But let’s make somethign good out of it. There must be a better way to do this. Ideas?
We organized the Stockholm event of the Global Game Jam this weekend. The main organizers were me and Inger Ekman from Spelverkstaden, with lots of help from a bunch of people! 48 hours of intensive non stop game development. At the Stockholm site we were just over 40 participants. Double that of last year, it starts to turn into a really nice event!
This year we were jamming in Tekniska Museet and it worked really well. Great place and greate people. They had the place and the needed internet structure for it, we provided program organization and everything else.
In total we had 12 games (I think, still have not had time to land properly). We gametested early, and with external people. Already at twelve on Saturday, 19 hours after the event started, the museum audience was let in for the first time to try the games!
If you would like to download the games and try then yourself they are availible through ggjsthlm.lets-play.se
Last week I defended my Licentiate thesis (or ”half-doctor” thesis, to explain even outside of Sweden). It is available here if you are interested in reading. If not I´will try to talk a bit more about it here later, and some of the central arguments is going to work its way into my normal way of writing and talking, so you will probably get it after a while :-)
Here’s a picture by my opponent, Staffan Björk, on his copy of the thesis, with notes and questions. Staffan shares his working time between Göteborgs Universitet and Interactive Institute, and his big interest is in Game Design Patterns. The patterns is related to my work especially in the kind of knowledge that is created. I talk about ‘intermediate-level knowledge’, meaning it is not the grand theories, and it is not absolutely generalizable, but there is still common traits that can be reused in the right situations.
Before diving to deep into this I should really go through the central arguments and findings though, so you know if you are actually interested. And avoid falling into the researcher trap of presenting all the background first, before actually saying anything. But hat will be for a upcoming blog post.
Now, if you are interested, go to the publications list and find the thesis. All the articles are available there as well! Please tell me what you think! What you are wondering about? Can this be useful for you in a more practical setting, or is there something that you would love to see added before the final thesis?
My life is revolving around my licentiate thesis right now, and it finally came back from the printers! For you who are not in the Swedish system, we have quit a long Ph.D.-program, usually running for five years. Half way through you sometimes write the lic., being kind of half a Ph.D.
Writing the document of course takes a lot of time. Sometimes it feels like I could have been going into the actual Ph.D. writing by now if it wasn’t for this one, but it shaped a lot of my thinking and forced me to really cut down and define, a task that is hard to do and hopefully will form my future work into a better piece. The thesis is more of a question than an answer, showing what I will continue to do with the rest of my time as Ph.D.-student.
The defense is next week, and after that I’m officially a ‘licentiate’, whatever that means. Anyway, it is available with my publications if you want to read it. The link may change after the defense when it is available from a more official place, but for now you can get it here directly from me. The associated articles are also available from the publications page. Yo can grab the PDF directly here if you don’t want to go through everything looking for it.Older Posts »