Does Design Thinking Need a Relational Grammar?

Tuesday 22 March 2016
RMIT Design Hub, Pavillion 1, Level 10 Cnr Swanston and Victoria St, Melbourne

Historically speaking, design is a relatively junior discipline. While it is enjoying an almost equal status to the longer established scholastic disciplines it has achieved this partly by conforming to ‘research standards’ imposed by governments. It has been relatively unremarked that designers have endured the imposition of an alien (i.e. ‘truth-oriented’) tradition when their primary role is to make things work better. In 2002 we launched the Writing-PAD Network to raise awareness of the epistemological tensions between cultures of hands-on studio practices and the research tradition. This led to the launch (2008) of our ‘Journal
of Writing in Creative Practice’ (Intellect) and the sharing of a multiplicity of writing practices that support design, art and craft. The ‘Relational Learning Tool’ challenges some of the assumptions within the writing tradition by putting the creative’s predicament into a dynamic, 3D format, rather than a fixed and linear 2D form. Its main purpose is not to analyse the status quo but to act as a self-reflexive tool that encourages the creative to map out her situation much more contingently and responsibly (i.e. ethically and co-sustainably). It also serves as a heutagogic framework for academic assessment that makes plagiarism virtually impossible.It was adopted for use on the MA Design program at the Iceland Academy of Arts in 2013 and has been under further development there ever since.

John is Emeritus Professor of Design at Goldsmiths, University of London and a director of Creative Publics. After graduating in fine art in 1968, he exhibited his electronic, interactive sound installations in many countries. As Deputy Head of Fine Art at Goldsmiths he launched several radical design degrees, including the BA(Hons) in Design and the MA in Design Futures. In his spare time, John records, travels and performs with several musical groups, including the cult band ‘Deaf School’ and the more recent ‘Clang Group’.


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