Dewey and Design: A Pragmatist Perspective for Design Research

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Over the last four decades, John Dewey’s pragmatist philosophy has formed an intellectual core in design research, underpinning Donald Schön’s theory of reflective practice, the experiential perspective in HCI and the democratic commitments of participatory design. Taking these existing connections as a starting point, Brian Dixon explores how deeper alignments may be drawn between Dewey’s insights and contemporary design research’s concern with practice, meaning and collaboration. Chapter by chapter, a fresh intellectual approach is revealed, one which recognises the transformative power of doing, making and knowing as a force for positive change in the world. We see that, for Dewey, experience comes first. It connects us to surrounding world and the society of which we are part; good things can happen and new realities are possible—we just have to work for them. The implications for design research are vast. We are offered a new way of understanding designerly knowledge production, as well as the methodological implications of adopting Deweyan pragmatism in design research. Taken as a whole, Dewey and Design not only draws out the value of Dewey’s work for design research but also, crucially, offers a clear articulation of the value of design itself.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages207
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-47471-3
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-47470-6
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2020

Publication series

NameDesign Research Foundations
PublisherSpringer Nature


  • John Dewey
  • Design Research
  • Practice-Based Research
  • Practice-led Research
  • design philosophy
  • design principles
  • Design Process

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