Lessons Learned and Future Challenges for Design Observatory Research

DS 58-2: Proceedings of ICED 09, the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design, Vol. 2, Design Theory and Research Methodology, Palo Alto, CA, USA, 24.-27.08.2009

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Törlind, Peter; Sonalkar, Neeraj; Bergström, Mattias; Blanco, Eric; Hicks, Ben; McAlpine, Hamish
Series: ICED
Section: Design Theory and Research Methodology
Page(s): 371-382


Video observation has been used for ethnographic studies for decades and is becoming more popular in engineering design research. This paper presents some of the lessons learned of using design observation in research. The paper focuses on the design and usage of physical environments designed specifically for design team observation - Design Observatories (DO) . The paper argues that in the past DO focused on observation, whereas DO of the future will provide real time analysis and the possibility to intervene to improve the design activity. Five different types of studies are identified and categorized. Three different design observatories and the rationale for their design are described, as well as twelve design studies ranging from short experiments to long ethnographic studies in industry. Finally, the implications for design observatory research are presented - DO must support an iterative research approach, since design experiments are emergent and are not defined up front. There is a need for a more longitudinal capture of data and the emergence of robust coding schemes that enable machine coding needs to be supported.

Keywords: Design observation, Design observatory, video analysis


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