On 25 September 2023, Marieke Zielhuis defends her dissertation Considering design practice: The underutilised opportunities in collaborative design research projects for learning by design professionals in Delft. This dissertation examines the connection of design research to design practice. In other words: what do designers in practice gain from the design research projects as they take place at colleges and universities?
About the research
Design professionals, such as at design firms, consultancies or governments, need to keep their knowledge up to date in a gradually changing practice. One way to gain new knowledge is to learn from the insights developed in research projects. This can be done, for instance, by reading articles, participating in workshops, or by entering the project as a partner yourself.
The problem Marieke addresses in her research is that findings from academic design research projects often do not contribute to the practice of design professionals. This problem is often referred to as a ‘gap’ between academia and practice.
In her research, Marieke confirms that there are barriers. For example, she shows that design practitioners are often a secondary target group in projects. And the research also shows that there is more between research and practice than a gap to be bridged. The research focuses on projects where research and practice already meet and describes in what ways and around what topics design professionals learn. Marieke also shows what further opportunities can be exploited.