Contract - June 2012 - (Page 104)

book review rethinking Design and interiors Author Shashi Caan Publisher Laurence king Publishing, 192 pp., $29.95 The Designer’s Guide to Doing research Authors Sally Augustin and Cindy Coleman Publisher John wiley & Sons, 344 pp., $75 Two books lay the groundwork for designers to apply research in practice By Nicholas Watkins, Ph.D. With approximately 90 billion components and another 900 trillion connections, the human brain is fast becoming the design industry’s star client. Unfortunately, not all design professionals feel equipped to meet the brain’s complex demands. Despair not. Help has arrived in the form of two books that do a laudable job of cluing us in on this most challenging of clients. In Rethinking Design and Interiors: Human Beings in the Built Environment, New York–based designer Shashi Caan confronts the possibility that the interior design profession has become perilously alienated from the psychological needs of its clients and society. Regrounding us, she takes a fresh look at the history and current practice of interior design, conceptualizing a new vision for the profession. This vision is informed by research and research techniques that weave together a holistic appreciation of interior design’s role in urban planning, architecture, and product design. With effortless and engaging discussions of Vitruvian man, cognitive psychology, experimental psychology, and even domestic engineering, Caan shows us that design should, fundamentally, cultivate safety, security, and well-being. The best-suited path to achieving this, she indicates, is through designs appreciative of the layered self and informed by research techniques such as literature reviews, mock-ups, and post-occupancy evaluations. Straightforward examples, clear illustrations, and detailed captions bring the point home, as does a narrative that is well-suited for designers. While Caan’s book provides a map, The Designers’ Guide to Doing Research: Applying Knowledge to Inform Design by Sally Augustin, Ph.D., and Cindy Coleman provides the compass, explaining specifically how to implement the research Caan requires. While this book could easily have travelled the route of a traditional textbook, it is instead a living document that means business. The authors advise us on the best research techniques to use at each stage of the design process, with helpful chapters on research instruments, data collection techniques, and rules of thumb. With contributions from prominent design researchers, The Designers’ Guide to Doing Research is an indispensable read for any student of design research who wants to spring into action. Assuredly, current and later editions will be thoroughly tagged and annotated on office desks everywhere. The discourse behind design research has a long lineage. Both books converge at a truth established with John Zeisel’s enduring classic, Inquiry by Design, design reasoning is itself a form of scientific inquiry that can inform stages of the design process. That an esteemed designer, an environmental psychologist with a doctoral degree, and a design research strategist in practice come to such similar solutions from different vantage points is telling. After a discourse that has been evolving for decades in organizations like the Environmental Design Research Association, the design industry itself is evolving to a new metric and standard: the mind as measure. Nicholas watkins, Ph.D., is a senior associate and firmwide director of research at Hok. contractdesign.com 104 june 2012 http://www.contractdesign.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - June 2012

Contract - June 2012
Contents
Editorial
Industry News
Exhibition: HD Expo
Product Focus: Bright Lights, Big City
NeoCon® Preview
Best of NeoCon® Jurors: What They Look For
Cranbrook Art Museum
Enzo Ferrari Museum
Tampa Covenant Church
Vancouver Community Library
Julia Ideson Library
Competition: Library Interior Design
Book Review: Rethinking Design and Interiors; The Designer’s Guide to Doing Research
Designers Select: Hospitality Products
Sources
Ad Index
Exhibition: Herman Miller Pops Up in SoHo

Contract - June 2012

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