Patterns in Interior Environments: Perception, Psychology, and Practice

By Patricia Rodemann | Go to book overview

Foreword

The 1960s saw the start of a revolution in design thinking. This did not simply represent another in a long line of changes in design style. Rather it represented a change in fundamental thinking about the way one approaches design. Instead of relying on designer intuition and hunches, this approach called for the creation of a scientific knowledge base to guide design. In the Environmental Design Research Association, social scientists, designers, and others came together to initiate this new scientifically based approach to design.

A number of critically praised designs proved to be dismal failures for the users, indicating the flaws in the intuitive approach to design. Just as other disciplines, such as medicine, replaced mystical approaches with science, so these pioneers saw that design could benefit from the development of a scientific knowledge base.

Science is not the only way of “knowing,” but it is the only approach that builds a knowledge base to guide future actions. It builds and tests theory to help us understand, predict, and act on things. For design, the scientific approach entails at least two directions: First, and most directly, one can raise and test specific hypotheses of interest; second, one can take a broader scientific approach to the full design enterprise. This involves a cyclical process in which one develops design goals clearly in a brief or program, creates a design that fits the program, and then systematically tests the design in a postoccupancy evaluation (POE). The POE provides information for improving future programs and designs.

Though design research has produced valuable information and designs that work better for the consumers, one area of research has created some controversy: that which has directly attacked what designers claim as their stronghold—visual quality and appearance. Designers may well have special training and expertise in “aesthetics,”

-ix-

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