Assignment 1
Diploma of Design

Design Inquiry

Developing thorough and expansive research practices is a central part of contemporary
design. This means drawing together relevant information and inspiration from a diversity of
fields and sources, in preparation for a later design application. This assignment challenges
and encourages you to consider the value of both a broad and refined approach to research.
You will choose from one of five broad themes (Site, Poetics, Others, Critique, or Time). Taking this
theme as a starting point, you will collect relevant visual and textual research items each week. As
the semester progresses, your research will move towards a refined theme of personal inquiry, which
you will explore in detail.
Your Personal Research Project is to be collated in an InDesign document and will include:
• A signed Insearch cover sheet
• Research title page (the name should aptly reflect your research)
• A minimum of twenty (20) research items
• 75% offline sources from books, magazines, empirical research, etc.
• A diversity of fields relevant to the theme must be explored, ranging through film, design
and art history, literature or fiction, non-fiction, scholarly articles, internet research, personal
observations and experiences, and visual research.
• Each item must be captioned
• Each item must be academically referenced in the Harvard style
• Each item must include a written annotation between 50 – 100 words. Annotations should
explain the item and its relevance to your theme and must be written in your own words, with
quotations of existing written material clearly cited.
• Both class directed work and self-directed research should be included.
• A complete reference list compiling all sources cited, formatted in the Harvard Style.
Your assignment will be collated in an InDesign document (template provided at Canvas).
Final output will be as follows:
1. A single high-resolution PDF, submitted via Canvas Turn-it-in.
2. 2 x high-resolution A4 colour print-outs stapled in top-left corner, submitted in your tutorial.
3. The complete set of high resolution jpegs of your collected visual materials (minimum 20 images),
submitted to your tutor via usb (to be clearly labelled with your name).
Interim deadline: Week 2
This involves uploading to Canvas Turn-it-in (as a PDF) your written interpretation of your chosen
broad theme, and four research items in the InDesign template provided – all with correct captioning,
referencing and annotations (note that this is the homework task from Week 1).
Up to 5% penalty for failure to submit work of an adequate standard.
Assignment submission: Week 7, beginning of scheduled tutorial.
All work must be submitted on time (i.e. beginning of timetabled class), as late penalties apply.
All work must be spell checked and grammar checked.
Please double check you have met all brief requirements prior to hand-in.
The research you compile in this assignment will be used in Assignment 3: Research Archive.
Progress Milestone Requirements (5%)
• Completion of Week 1 homework tasks
Attitudes and Values (15%)
• Manage project development and complete the assignment within a given timeframe, lecture
and class attendance and participation in activities.
• Commitment to the self-directed nature of the research process: student extends research
beyond set class work and weekly research quotas.
Knowledge Domain and Concepts (30%)
• Conceptual and developmental approach to research process – evident in diversity of
research fields, understanding of the material researched, and sustained, critical and
thoughtful engagement with the material.
• Visual curiosity is evident in the selection of research imagery: the student makes personal
visual associations in the research process, extending beyond the literal.
Critical Thinking, Creativity and Analytic Skills (30%)
• Creative strategies evident in the written annotations: the student creatively and
independently responds to the selected research items.
• Critical thinking evidenced in written annotations: the student is able to discern reputable,
academic sources.
• Annotations are coherent, and have a clear relationship with the corresponding research item,
as well as the broader research theme being explored.
Practical and Professional Skills (20%)
• Proficiency with Adobe InDesign, and attention to detail in presentation of assignment.
• Sourcing and processing of high quality image content (predominantly from offline sources).
• Correct academic referencing procedures are adhered to (in text citations and final
bibliography in Harvard style).
• Locate and adapt a diversity of potential research possibilities – whether experiential, visual,
literary, televisual, media, games, news, etc. – to a particular theme or brief
[PLO 3.4 Value curiosity]
• Locate different design frameworks (whether speculative, critical, poetic, material) that can
be used to both conceptualise a design and bring it to fruition.
[PLO 1.1 Reflective approach to design practice]
• Develop creative strategies to contextualise research and present research findings in a
professional and conceptually driven manner.
[PLO 2.4 Analyse and synthesise ideas]
• Learning the significance of collating information and research findings in the design process
in a professional manner
[PLO 5.1 Understanding and practicing professionalism]
Theme Descriptions
“(site installation) is made to suit the place in which it was installed. They cannot be moved
without being destroyed.” Robert Barry, 1966.
“The works become part of the site and restructure both conceptually and perceptually the
organization of the site.” Richard Serra, 1989
‘Site specific’ work occurs when the designer or artist engages in an investigation of a specific site as
part of the process of creating their work. The work results from an investigation of the site’s locality,
community, history, geography, locality, topography, and ambiance. These aspects of the site
become a space of research for the designer – open for use, interpretation and recreation. As a result
the chosen site is embodied in the design or artistic outcome, which in turn extends the materials,
processes, and concepts already evident in the site. The site chosen in such works is diverse –
ranging from the private to the public, the grand and unremarkable. Responses to site can have an
uncanny effect – turning what was once familiar into something at once strange.
The focus of this theme is in what way designers might engage with a specific site, whether
through intervention, reflection on the identity of a location, or through posing and resolving a
problem particular to that site.
Design is usually thought of as a functional, utilitarian practice. It is a place of problem solving. But
what might design practice look like were it to create outside of problem solving and utility? A poetic
approach to design is a starting point for this alternative exploration, valuing contemplation over
clarity, evocation over clarification. A conversation between Ralph Ball and Maxine Naylor describes
well the possibilities of a poetics in design:
Ralph Ball: ‘Design poetics’ is coined and used in the same way as literary poetics and
poetry. Something doesn’t have to make literal sense it has to make poetic sense. What
does that mean? It means that in literary poetry you can put words together that wouldn’t
necessarily make figurative sense but elicit a different kind of meaning…[A] poetic
description – one which engages the faculties of both imagination and interpretation. We
can consider ‘visual poetics’ in the same way. We put together something which creates a
contradiction, creates a paradox, or creates some form of visual resonance, which is
different to conventional expectation but which throws light on the object that we are
dealing with.
Maxine Naylor: Often the work is about engaging people in looking at objects afresh and it
doesn’t have to be serious and ponderous. It’s actually often quite witty and amusing […]
Being poetic about something allows people to look at things in a different way.
Ralph Ball: Another point about the poetic aspect is that we are making objects that look
both familiar and strange. In literature there is a recognisable relationship between ordinary 

prose and poetic language. Poetic language uses the same words as ordinary prose it just
puts words in different orders. When we’re working with chairs we’re making objects that are
familiar but we’re remaking them to be simultaneously unfamiliar.
‘Perspectives on critical design: a conversation with Ralph Ball and Maxine Naylor’ Matthew Malpass, Nottingham
Trent University, UK
The focus of this theme is in what way designers might engage this speculative notion of the
poetic – whether in its imaginative, irrational, unexpected, humorous or non-functional forms.
To be means to communicate…to be means to be for the other, and through him, for
oneself. Man has no internal sovereign territory; he is all and always on the boundary;
looking within himself, he looks in the eyes of the other or through the eyes of the other…I
can not do without the other; I cannot become myself without the other; I must find myself
in the other, finding the other in me (in mutual reflection and perception). Justification cannot
be justification of oneself, confession cannot be confession of oneself. I receive my name
from the other, and this name exists for the other (to name oneself is to engage in
usurpation). Self-love is equally impossible.
Mikhail Bakhtin, “Toward a Revoultionary Re-working of the Dostoyevski Book.” In Problems of Dosteyevski’s
Poetics, ed and trans., Caryl Emerson. (Minneapolis: Univ. of Minn. Press, 1984).
Design is always for others – for others use, their pleasure, or their contemplation. Yet the broader
notion of ‘the other’ takes on many more nuanced and divergent meanings. The term can have social
connotations – referring here to others in any given society whom we may have an ethical and
reciprocal responsibility for. Similarly, there is the other who exists at the margins or periphery of
society, as outcasts or marginalised individuals and groups. In this sense otherness is intimately
woven with political issues and concepts of power. The ‘other’ also takes on particular personal and
interpersonal meanings. For example, our apprehension of internal selves is seamlessly bound to
someone else’s perception, and to our dialogue with others. Then there is the other that is internal to
all of us, which is even ‘strange’ to us. This other often emerges in our physic life through dreams,
states of intoxication, or irrational states and experiences. This inward otherness forms an integral
part of our identity and sense being. Further, the other can be connected to experiences of the
scared and transcendent, and involve the investment of great symbolic meaning in unseen forces
(religion or spirituality come to mind here).
The focus of this theme is in what way designers might engage this diverse notion of the other
– whether in its personal, interpersonal, political, social, sacred, or psychic forms. 

Critical design questions the values that appear to be given in our society. To appropriate Marx,
critical design questions the veil of mystification that surrounds apparently solid social truths. In this
sense critical design extends critical theory, creating design artefacts that critique our contemporary
consumer culture, while challenging expectations and preconceptions about how we use objects and
the context objects exist within. Not only critical of social values, critical design interrogates design
history and theory itself, widening the parameters of what constitutes design practice and research.
This critical approach to design is well suited to those seeking a political outlet and expression to
their design practice.
Critical design was popularised by Hertzian Tales (1998), a book by product designer Anthony Dunne.
Dunne, with design partner Fiona Raby, claims to use design to ‘challenge narrow assumptions,
preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life.’ (2007) It is a term now used
across the design disciplines, identifying an approach to practice rather than a particular outcome.
As Andrew Blauvelt explains,
Critical design is non-affirming, that is to say, it refuses or at least is sceptical of the
conventional role of design as a service provider to industry. Critical design is polemical, it
asks questions and poses problems for the profession and users alike, it is opposed to
traditional notions of problem-solving, and it eschews the singularity of a medium in favour
of the multiplicities of social agency and effects. (Blauvelt p. 42 Émigré Rant)
The focus of this theme is in what way designers might engage with a critical approach to
design – whether in its critique of conventional design roles and the industry, or in broader
socio-political contexts.
“The pure present is an ungraspable advance of the past devouring the future.
In truth, all sensation is already memory.” Henri Bergson.
“Time is not a reality (hypostasis), but a concept (noêma) or a measure (metron).”
Antiphon, 5th Century BC, Greece.
Time is a complex phenomenon that has been a major area of interest to science, religion, and
philosophy for many centuries. Time can be understood as a metric measure, plotting out durations
and intervals between the past, present and future (such as a clock). Yet such measuring systems do
not account for our personal and social experience of time, which can be experienced as slow, fast,
compacted, and drawn out, flowing or constrained. One can be ‘time poor’, or one can have ‘the
luxury of time’. Time can be viewed as linear and sequential – where single events occur in a
sequence. It can also be viewed as circular, where events repeat and return in irregular or
unpredictable order. Time is also connected to our personal experiences of memories, change and
becoming, and as is strongly connected to both personal biography and larger scale of world history.
The focus of this theme is in what way designers might engage with the theme of time –
whether in its qualitative or quantitative dimensions, its transient or metric aspects, or from a
philosophical or more personal vantage point.

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