Turning the viewing device around: A critical approach to drawing as design research

Caroline Campbell

Lecturer, Illustration. Institute of Communication Design
College of Creative Arts. Massey University
Wellington, New Zealand


This paper examines drawing as a critically informed design research method. In it
I employ the key term perspective as a theoretical metaphor and scopic device for commenting on recent scholarly debates regarding design culture as a field of inquiry, objective and subjective design research methods, and the performative role of design in communicating contemporary socio-cultural issues. This section of the paper focuses on unpacking the cultural and academic significance of the two words comprising the phrase ‘design research’. I speculate that they are not mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed, as implied by the term ‘antipodes’, but interconnected domains of activity.
This discussion forms the basis for the practice-based section of the paper in which I reflect on a set of observational and conceptual drawings created in response to the argument, and using the research method termed the discovery-led poetic. I assess this intuitive approach in mediating identity and place, and conclude that it is equally viable as the technique projective drawing for negotiating the graphic treatment of the tangible and the imagined.