Researching the construction of a formbild

GULLIKSEN, Marte S (2009). Researching the construction of a formbild. In: Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July 2008.


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This paper is a presentation and a discussion of the research methods used in the author’s research project at Oslo School of Architecture and Design (Gulliksen, 2006). The aim of the research was to describe how a group of people, in this case: students and teaches, come to agree upon what a good quality form is. The chosen way of explaining the notion of form quality in design engaged a socio-constructivistic approach, based in the theories of Bourdieu and Foucault and others. It rendered form quality as something constructed by the individual in interaction with artefacts and other individuals. The object of the study was to explore the mechanisms of this construction, separated into dynamical aspects (the actual construction) and the hierarchical aspects (the restrictions) of the constructive mechanisms. Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis of communication (verbal, visual and more) about form was the methodology chosen. This paper discusses certain fundamental methodological questions concerning the use of this perspective and this methodology in a design process. It asks in what way it is convenient to study something as material as an artefact’s form as something as immaterial as construction, communication and text. The paper is based on specific examples from the thesis presenting the research, ending with a short conclusive discussion concerning the opportunity this perspective gave to avoid a dichotomist basis (in the artefact it self or in the eyes of the beholder) for theories concerning form quality, and to sustain a focus on the communicational and relational aspects of the designing process.

Form Quality, Formbild, Socio-Constructivism, Discourse Analysis, Methodological Considerations

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (-)
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2009
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:00

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