Archive for the ‘Practice-led Research’ Category

Transmitting Craft Knowledge

6 March 2010

Transmitting craft knowledge: designing interactive media to support tacit skills learning.
Nicola Wood’s PhD Thesis
, November 2006

This is a rather late entry as the thesis was examined in 2006. I’m posting it now as Nicola has recently updated her website to make the work more accessible. It’s a very engaging piece of work that has value whether you are interested in practice-led research methods, the use of video and interactive media in research and design or craft skills and how they are learned.

Download full thesis from Nicola’s website which contains a great deal of other interesting material as well. The site is also a good example for any academic or professional who wants to build their public profile.

Showing Your Stuff

5 November 2009

The importance of revealing your practices in “practice-led” research

Originally posted to the PhD-Design email discussion list on 20 November 2008

whiteley joint

image from Graham Whiteley’s PhD thesis

David Balkwill’s comments (in a previous message to PhD-Design) about students missing the point of their task, which is designing not drawing, is very relevant to research and doctoral studies. One of the key issues to be resolved in any “practice-led” project is how the quality and validity of the methods are to be made clear (more…)

In the Eating

31 October 2009

Grounding the validation of investigative designing in the experience of stakeholders

RUST. C, (2009) In the Eating: Grounding the validation of investigative designing in the experience of stakeholders, International Association of Societies of Design Research Conference, Seoul, Korea, October 2009

I wrote and presented this paper as part of a special session at the IASDR conference, organised by Stella Boess of TU Delft. Stella wished to explore the question of how knowledge arising from the use of designed artefacts in research might be validated.


Designing with Values

31 October 2009

A designer’s framework for delivering personalised media

RUST, C.  BLYTHE, M. MCKAY, A. BAGGOTT, J. WRIGHT, P.  (2009) Designing with Values: A designer’s framework for delivering personalised media in an unencumbered interactive environment. International Association of Societies of Design Research Conference, Seoul, Korea, October 2009


This paper describes the evolution of a design and development process for a museum exhibit that delivered unencumbered or ambient interactive media using personal values as the main framework for customising interaction and thus for selecting and developing content. The context of the work is the developing field of products and systems that incorporate rich digital content. (more…)

A Tacit Understanding

23 June 2009

A Tacit Understanding: The designer’s role in capturing and passing on the skilled knowledge of master craftsmen


Wood, N. Rust, C. Horne, G. (2009) A Tacit Understanding: The designer’s role in capturing and passing on the skilled knowledge of master craftsmen International Journal of Design (online) 3.3

Download full paper from The International Journal of Design

From 2007 to 2009 Nicola and Grace explored the practical application of methods and theories developed in Nicola’s doctoral research into transmitting craft knowledge (more…)

Dr Simon Bowen

5 June 2009

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

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. (more…)

Unstated Contributions (2007)

31 December 2007

RUST, C. (2007) Unstated Contributions – How Artistic Inquiry Can Inform Interdisciplinary Research International Journal of Design, 1(3), 69-76

Unstated Contributions: How Artistic Inquiry Can Inform Interdisciplinary Research

I wrote this paper following our review of practice-led research in Art, Design & Architecture. During that work we encountered the difficult proposition that the explicit contribution to knowledge might be problematic for those artists and others who are used to leaving the “contribution” of their work unstated for the audience to interpret as they wish.  On the one hand this is challenging for formal concepts of research and doctoral education which require the researcher to own their research completely, on the other hand it raises an intriguing problem – are there valid contributions to the research enterprise which may require ownership and awareness on the part of the researcher but may not allow the actual knowledge flowing from the work to be under their control.

I decided to explore this and managed to find some case examples that provided a variety of models where unstated or provisional contributions are a necessary part of the research enterprise, including one concluding case, of research by Lucy Lyons, in which the researcher owns every aspect of the research except the final knowledge that flows from it, although she was responsible in every way for engendering it, was in complete control of the process, and closely observed and recorded the knowledge that others found in her work. I regard this as my second serious paper on tacit knowledge, following my 2004 paper on Design Enquiry

Full Paper (from open-access journal site)



AHRC Review of Practice-Led Research (2007)

31 December 2007

RUST, C. MOTTRAM, J. TILL, J. (2007) Review of Practice-Led Research in Art, Design & Architecture Arts and Humanities Research Council, Bristol, UK

We were commissioned to carry out this review in 2005 to inform the AHRC and the Research Community about the state of “practice-led” research in these disciplines. It was a very big piece of work for us because we were aware that our colleagues were anxious for there to be a thorough debate and some reconciliation of issues, although the AHRC were looking for a more functional report.

AHRC have redesigned their website and lost the pages with their research reviews but I’ve saved a copy in
Full report and appendices available to download from

Read on for a summary of the report


Investigating Our Future through Designing (2006)

29 September 2006

RUST, C. (2006) Investigating Our Future: How Designers can get us all Thinking Viva50plus World Ageing and Generations Congress, University of St Gallen, Switzerland 27-29 September 2006 (Invited paper)

Investigating Our Future:
How Designers can get us all Thinking

This was part of a session led by Deana McDonagh to present ideas about design to this very interesting interdisciplinary conference. I used it as an opportunity to set out some ideas about designers as provocateurs, drawing on work by two designers at Sheffield Hallam, Peter Walters and Simon Bowen. It’s a very brief paper and not exactly advanced scholarship but it takes a position.

Full paper from


This paper, and the presentation it represents, discusses the importance of bringing users into the design process and some of the techniques that can be employed to achieve that.


Design Enquiry: Tacit Knowledge & Invention…

20 November 2004

RUST,C. (2004) Design Enquiry: Tacit knowledge and invention in science Design Issues 20 November 2004

Design Enquiry: Tacit knowledge and invention in science

I wrote this paper between 2001 and 2003 as my first serious attempt to work out the implications of the ideas on “Knowledge and the Artefact” that I presented at the 2000 La Clusaz Conference on Doctoral Education in Design. I went to La Clusaz full of enthusiasm for my ideas but the very intense and quite scary environment of that conference brought me down to earth with a bump.

I rethought my presentation to stress the provisional nature of my La Clusaz paper and the questions that it implied and proposed it as a research problem. This seemed to do the trick and I had a lot of encouragement, hence my efforts in this 2004 paper which explored how Michael Polanyi’s ideas about tacit or personal knowledge could be seen at work in some of the various design research projects that I was involved with at Sheffield Hallam University.

Full Text available to download from