Dr Simon Bowen

I’m exceptionally pleased to announce that Simon Bowen has successfully defended his PhD thesis titled

A Critical Artefact Methodology: Using Provocative Conceptual Designs to Foster Human-centred Innovation


available online at http://www.simon-bowen.com/?page_id=40

Simon’s work explores some practical implications of the critical design methods developed by Dunn and Raby, Bill Gaver and others. He has synthesised and evaluated ways for designers to use provocative concepts, “Crazy Ideas” as he describes them, to stimulate stakeholders to engage in productive speculation about aspirations and needs that might not be revealed by more conventional user research techniques. The magic part of Simon’s work is that it allows a proper place for the designer as a ‘processor’ of people’s ideas and experiences – not doing analysis as a market researcher would, but allowing engagement with stakeholders to feed directly into new cycles of creative thinking.

To support this Simon has developed a description of such processing based on Michael Polanyi’s theories of tacit knowledge in action. I find this a most useful building block in the body of work being done here at Sheffield Hallam by myself and Nicola Wood as well as Simon, with more to come from Rizal Rahman and Cigdem Kaya whose PhD studies are extending it in different directions. You can find this description on pages 171-173 of the thesis: 6.2.4 Designing as ‘processing’ and Polanyi’s indwelling

I’ve developed a short account of how Simon’s work has stimulated my own thinking on how Rittel and Webber’s work on wicked problems might be a basis for design methods, prompted by members of this discussion list who have suggested that wicked problems might be interesting but don’t seem to provide help with methods.

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