Design Accountability: When Design Research Entangles Theory and Practice
Ilpo Koskinen, Peter Gall Krogh


When design research builds on design practice, it can contribute to both the theory and practice of design in ways richer than research that treats design as a topic. Such research, however, faces several tensions that it must negotiate successfully in order not to lose its character as research. This paper looks at the field of constructive design research, which takes the entanglement of theory and practice as its hallmark, and uses it as a test case in exploring how design researchers can work with theory, methodology, and practice without losing their identity as design researchers. The crux of practice-based design research is that, where classical research is interested in singling out a particular aspect and exploring it in depth, design practice is characterized by balancing numerous concerns in a heterogeneous and occasionally paradoxical product. It is on this basis that the notion of design accountability is introduced and discussed. The purpose of the paper is to enable a richer and more nuanced discussion of practice-based methods in design research.

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