Research  

and the Senses

True design research is lacking in Germany because there is no suitable infrastructure. Design research is beyond the scope of any undergraduate degree program. Some so-called graduate programs issuing a Master Degree are merely tolerated by our education authorities, as long as they don't require any additional resources.

You are welcome to disagree, but honest scientific research will simply not occur in a system that allows for a maximum of five years for both the undergraduate and graduate programs combined.

A research-oriented Master program in design requires a solid foundation and some industrial or research experience. Instead of having their foundation in design, candidates should be permitted in from related fields, e.g. psychology, information sciences, etc., as is the case internationally.
A legitimate Master program should require two years.

Unfortunately for Germany, such structures exist only abroad. Look at the advanced design work done at the MIT Media Lab (by non-designers)! While academia should be the locomotive for design developments, in Germany industry itself is taking the lead, academia trailing behind. The caboose instead of the locomotice. Advanced design education remains a dream. Highly qualified German design students leave the country, and highly qualified foreign design students look elsewhere for a higher level of academic qualification.

There are thousands of topics that are in urgent need of being addressed by design research. These are some of them:

• Acoustic Design: What is the appropriate sound of a rotary knob, a push-button, and other moving parts for optimum acoustic support of a product's visual appearance?

• Tactile Design: Exactly what is the proper angle/force curve for a rotary knob to evoke the highest possible level of quality perception?

• What is multisensory harmony?

• How do humans perceive beauty? What is a measure of beauty?

• How can design contribute to the formation of a mental map in the user's mind?

Many disciplines are claiming to provide the answers, most of them with a greater reputation and more demonstrated competence than design.
Fortunately for us, none of them come with the competence to synthesize, or to design, new entities from a compound of soft and hard variables.

While creative synthesis remains the domain of industrial design today, it is a question of which discipline will be the first to procure the missing component, or which new structures will be created to fill the current void of science and research-based design.

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