A Craft practice incorporating a Design Methodology

An Outline of the methodology employed.

From the outset I have been concerned with working toward the forefront of craft practice and my study has embodied a combination of practice based research and a examination of the context of this work through a knowledge and understanding of related philosophical issues, theory and topics.

A series of key events and distinct phases forms a design process model based on the chronology of the methods of inquiry employed.

Phase 1. _Techniques

Phase 2. _Meanings

Phase 3. _Scenario

Phase 4. _Testing

Phase 5. _Modification

This model is not indicative of a scientific approach which forms a rigid framework of inquiry, but rather is representative of the characteristics of the process undertaken, that has been subject to modification and adaptation and offers an understanding of the method whereby experimentation, analysis, synthesis and critical reflection have occurred. Each phase consists of a series of further iterative loops where the exploration of ideas, discovery and problem solving takes place. As a practitioner, it seems to be a natural methodology to be reflexive. Learning through experience highlights the importance of reflecting in, upon and for action. My approach to ‘learning through making’ in connection with experimentation or ‘play’ with materials and technical processes forms a significant part the fulfilment of this project. However, this process involves not only the hands but has been a cognitive exercise highlighting the nature of designer maker decisions. My aim to be a reflective practitioner has required the ability to learn afresh with each new challenge and to search for new strategies to employ.

I wanted to impose focus on my practice that would clearly demonstrate a position of relevance for this research through the production of objects that speak of our times but more importantly act as ‘tools’ in the sense that the outcomes possess a practical connection and empathy to people’s lives. In the final stages this project has advanced into a ‘real-life’ healthcare setting using ‘Participatory Action Research’ to engage a broad community of professionals and members of the public in a collaborative venture with Arts for Health at Manchester Metropolitan University, Derbyshire Primary Care Trust and Derbyshire Community Health Services.

The relationship has given rise to the opportunity to develop and test my ideas for approaches to communication and connecting with patients experiencing Alzheimer’s and Dementia through observation, analysis and evaluation of prototypes and subsequent modification.

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