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Design Research: Methods and Perspectives [Hardcover]

Brenda Laurel , Peter Lunenfeld
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 1, 2003 0262122634 978-0262122634 First Edition

The tools of design research, writes Brenda Laurel, will allow designers "to claim and direct the power of their profession." Often neglected in the various curricula of design schools, the new models of design research described in this book help designers to investigate people, form, and process in ways that can make their work more potent and more delightful. "At the very least," Peter Lunenfeld writes in the preface, "design research saves us from reinventing the wheel. At its best, a lively research methodology can reinvigorate the passion that so often fades after designers join the profession."The goal of the book is to introduce designers to the many research tools that can be used to inform design as well as to ideas about how and when to deploy them effectively. The chapter authors come from diverse institutions and enterprises, including Stanford University, MIT, Intel, Maxis, Studio Anybody, Sweden?s HUMlab, and Big Blue Dot. Each has something to say about how designers make themselves better at what they do through research, and illustrates it with real world examples--case studies, anecdotes, and images. Topics of this multi-voice conversation include qualitative and quantitative methods, performance ethnography and design improvisation, trend research, cultural diversity, formal and structural research practice, tactical discussions of design research process, and case studies drawn from areas as unique as computer games, museum information systems, and movies. Interspersed throughout the book are one-page "demos," snapshots of the design research experience. Design Research charts the paths from research methods to research findings to design principles to design results and demonstrates the transformation of theory into a richly satisfying and more reliably successful practice.

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Design Research: Methods and Perspectives + A Designer's Research Manual: Succeed in Design by Knowing Your Clients and What They Really Need (Design Field Guide)
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Editorial Reviews


"... an indispensable resource for everyone in the field." I.D.

"Bravo! This truly is a remarkable book about one of the most significant design practices of the 21st century. It will push and test your knowledge about the role and the value of design. A must-readif you are serious about redesigning the future." Clement Mok, Founder, Studio Archetype, and President, AmericanInstitute of Graphic Arts

"...this is a book to turn your career inside out with serious examination and reflection." Book Bytes

"We live in perhaps the most overtly (and, possibly, overly) designed time in human history. Design touches us all, regardless of career,country, or social status. If you want to understand the impace of design on your everyday life, the ways in which design research can make you a more effective creator of designedartifacts, or the ways in which those artifacts can best be brought to consumers, the essays collected in Brenda Laurel's Design Research are a great place to start. Whether you make things,sell things, study things, or use things, Laurel'slatest offers a unique and powerful historical,analytical, personal, and practical overview of thisvital field." Warren Spector, Studio Director, Ion Storm

About the Author

Brenda Laurel is Chair of the graduate Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and was the co-founder of Purple Moon. She is the author of Utopian Entrepreneur (MIT Press, 2001).

Peter Lunenfeld is Professor of Design Media Arts at UCLA and the author of User: InfoTechnoDemo, Snap to Grid: A User's Guide to Digital Arts, Media, and Cultures, and The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading: Tales of the Computer as Culture Machine, all published by the MIT Press.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262122634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262122634
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

My sweet spot was always acting, and I earned an MFA and PhD in Theatre. About the time I was working on my PhD I discovered what would become personal computers. I've worked in interactive media since 1976 as a designer, researcher, writer and teacher. I'm currently an adjunct professor in Computer Science at U. C. Santa Cruz. I founded and chaired two graduate transmedia design programs at California College of Arts and at Art Center College of Design (2001-2006). Based on my research in gender and technology at Interval Research, I co-founded Purple Moon in 1996. Long strange trip.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great browse February 7, 2005
The varied opinions among the existing reviews suggests this is somehow a strange subject area. I can only report on my own response, and I think this is a cool book. Before thumbing through to the preface you'll encounter a neat symbol of good design - a two page spread of the what's in the book. A true "table of contents," whose rows represent various aspect of design research, and whose columns are the book chapters. Each table cell is marked if that chapter pertains to that aspect. Pleasing to the eye and enormously useful, especially if you wish to use this as a text or part of some focused study.

Many chapters are authored by one or more designers who reflect on their own approach and experience in design. I found this to be a rich source of material for thinking about ways to create new things. I would think that nearly anyone whose job requires creative output will find here some interesting and useful tools to add to their collection.
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61 of 75 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware November 10, 2004
Beware! This book has an attractive title for design researchers. I expected it to be a manual that might be useful, for example, to PhD students in design. But it is not. It is hugely disappointing. It has usurped the title `design research' for what is largely innovation management prattle.

It's a book for designers, not students. But I'm not sure what designers would get from it. Inspiration to engage more in user research? Perhaps. Encouragement to delve deeper into research methods, and to learn more? No; because the references and further reading are extremely limited. For instance, two potentially useful chapters, overviews of quantitative and qualitative methods respectively, have just one reference between them, and that's to Cooper's The Inmates are Running the Asylum, in the qualitative methods chapter.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Think differently July 1, 2004
By A Customer
If you want a linear, predictable textbook explanation of how to do design research, this book isn't for you. If, however, you want to be grounded in an appreciation of the craft by people who live it everyday, and inspired to think differently about its many facets and future, I highly recommend it. This book seems intended for the serious practioner who wants to elevate his or her game.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Choking hazard October 1, 2007
I enjoy some of her earlier work but this one is misleading, in particular for those wishing to study (methods of) design research. Laurel neither relates nor contributes to the discipline of design research in this book in a direct way. Design postgraduates looking for a good book on design research are better advised looking at Design Research by Peter Downton, which is more difficult to get but worth it and newer.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diverse and Inspirational December 27, 2005
Brenda's collection is still the most comprehensive collection of diverse design research methods I can find. I use her book to inspire, intrigue, and sometimes perplex students, exposing them to lots of new ideas. I use the book in combination with Kuniavsky's more practical how-to information in Observing the User Experience. He provides too much detail and not enough high concept. The combination ends up working very well.

If I could choose only a single text, I would choose Brenda's design research book. I can fill in specifics about different techniques drawn from many books and web sites, but the creativity of methods and the clear belief in the power of design research conveyed in the book needs to come from real world writers, not just from the professor claiming it is so. Her book makes the case!
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dumbass new student who LIKES the book ... September 5, 2004
Don't be deterred by the reviews. Check the book out for yourself. Personally I'm a bright but somewhat undereducated design student and while I'm only on page 31 I'm impressed with the thoughts and teachings. The other reviews sound a little snotty as in if you're well immersed in this culture and topic, yep it might not be for you, but I'm not. I'm discerning enough to think for myself but so far the writing has helped me think and understand the subject and my 'profession' a great deal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Little Bit Underwhelming September 3, 2010
By Ninakix
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have to say, on the whole I was actually pretty disappointed in this book. It came off frustrating, I think, partly because there was no cohesive voice. Usually, one would say this is indicative of the design research community as a whole, but I found myself having a hard time switching from topic to topic so fast - the essays were pretty short, and as such, didn't contain a whole lot of information and/or depth to them. The most disappointing section, to me, was the first on "People," because while this is one of the topics (ethnography and the study of people) that I'm most interested in, the essays only seemed to wade into the area knee-deep. That said, there were a few interesting gems in the "Process" section, especially Sean Donahue and Eric Zimmerman's essays. But in reality, I'd pass the book up for a book that more consistently and deeply approaches the topic of design research.
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Design Research: Method and Perspectives May 16, 2004
By A Customer
Disappointing. Book is a mishmash of essays most of which are only minimally helpful to someone seeking a logical and organized presentation of information about design research methods. Many of the essays are rambling and self-congratulatory. The selection of an odd yellowish green make sections in which color was used difficult to read. Great topic for a book - but, unfortunately, this one is a waste of time and money.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars For school
Bought it for school and used it for a course, came to me in time for assignments and what I needed it for...
Published 8 months ago by Hardi
5.0 out of 5 stars brand-new
the book looks like brand new, except the fact that the cover is missing. it's now a black hard-covered new book on my shelf. good deal anyway~
Published 9 months ago by Siqi
5.0 out of 5 stars great and cheap
this book was required for my university industry design course and it was almost double the price in the university bookshop. So great buy and came in pretty fast. VERY HAPPY
Published on April 13, 2011 by kev
5.0 out of 5 stars Great techniques and articles
This book provides both theory and practical applications. It's a great tool for any designer.
Published on December 4, 2009 by Nicholas Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars "Design" is Well-Designed...
Creative approaches to research. Well-written. ...even has lots of pictures. Best "methods and ideas" book I've ever seen.
Published on August 2, 2008 by S. Webb
4.0 out of 5 stars Primer
A primer for all designers - this book contains many useful case studies that underpin the quintessential need for research before beginning any design process.
Published on October 13, 2007 by P. A. Jentes
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for design thinkers!
This book is an excellent, comprehensive collection of design-related essays and research studies. It is inspirational and practical (and doesn't hurt that it is well designed)!
Published on February 6, 2007 by Angela Tank
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