What form should Canada’s national design policy take?

Designing Innovation: A Proposal For Future Policy Direction (Dorland, 2012) builds off of the initial discussions started in 2010 about the need for a Canadian National Design Policy. This working paper explores various forms of creative policies using case studies from Europe, the USA and England, and suggests that a hybrid of innovation, creative industries and design policy models would best serve Canada’s goal of aligning and enlisting the power of the design sector with the growth of innovation in our economy.

As this paper was written before the publication of State of Design: The Canadian Report (Government of Canada, 2010), it reflects the call for a national design policy and not the further discussion in the field.

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How is the practice of participatory design embedded, adapted and shared in the studio?

Practice Theory in the Studio: The Dynamics of Change in Innovative Design Methodologies (Dorland, 2016) locates and maps the field of practice-based approaches, suggesting that the practice turn identified by Warde (2005) has moved into a third wave of empirical study. It then explores how three key scholars from the second wave of practice theory (Schatzki, Warde and Shove) conceptualize the emergence, reproduction and innovation of social practices, and examines case studies of specific situated design methodologies proposed by Simonsen et al. as examples of the mechanics of change in the practice of designing. It concludes with an application of Warde and Shove’s particular theories of practice change, proposing that both the collectively understood meaning of the ‘user’ in design practice and the adaptation of new institutionalised structures that normalize the competencies and conventions associated with ‘designing’ can together serve as points of leverage to guide design practice towards practice-oriented and situated methodological ends, suggesting that the use of change-oriented methods from sustainable policy design can be of value in this effort.

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How can we understand design thinking as a conversion between tacit and explicit forms of knowledge?

Saying the Unsayable: Intersections of Tacit Knowing and Explicit Knowledge Within an Expanded Definition of Design Thinking (Dorland, 2016) explores the origins of the term “design thinking” and proposes that the term can be best understood as a method of knowledge conversion, rather than as either a tacit, or an explicit way of knowing. This paper (submitted in partial fulfillment of my candidacy examinations) examines how conceptions of ‘knowledge conversion’ as a way of transferring design thinking between creative workers, and outside of the studio, can help us understand the link between design thinking and design doing.

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How can we use ethnography to study the work of cultural producers?

Design Ethnography and Ethnographies of Designers: An Embedded and Collaborative Approach to the Study of Cultural Producers (Dorland, 2016) investigates the challenges and possibilities presented when conducting ethnographic research among cultural producers – especially among designers who themselves conduct ethnographic research work. In this paper, I claim that despite the barriers to ethnographic methods presented by the designer’s location within a community of guarded elites, and their use of designer-adapted observational research practices, an ethnographic study approach to the study of the design community is not only feasible but also valuable in the field of cultural production studies. The challenges presented by the use of ethnographic methods in the study of cultural producers can be mitigated in three ways: by using an embedded approach to ethnographic research, by mobilizing the researchers’ insider status within the community, and by applying designer-led approaches to observational and visual research methods in a collaborative fashion.

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