|Atelier Bow-Wow, Miyashita Park, Tokyo, Excerpt, 2011.|
|Atelier Bow-Wow, Nora House, Sendai, Japan, 2006.|
|Atelier Bow-Wow, Kawanishi Camping Cottage B, 1999.|
In the Battle of the Books, which is an English characterization of the long struggle between old and new learning in our culture, design was clearly part of the old learning. It was “paleoteric" - the term that was used to name the old learning. The new sciences, which promised to put all human understanding and activity on a firmer footing, were the new learning. They were “neoteric”, since they addressed new problems in understanding the world and tended to shape the organization of learning around such problems. The new learning was theoretical and oriented towards subject matters, marked off from each other by principles and causes that were, in a sense, in the nature of Being. (...)
What I want to suggest for this conference is that the discovery of design in the twentieth century is more than as mall incremental addition to the tradition of theoretical learning upon which our universities have been based since the Renaissance. True, design and its various branches have entered the universities under this guise, and their practical significance for economic development and the well-being of citizens may help to account for this development in tolerance among those who are committed to the old structure of universities and the old models of research. After all, universities had already found ways to accommodate within their missions the study of Law, Theology and Divinity, and Medicine. However, the discovery of design is more than this.It is a sign, I believe, of a new battle of the books in our time: a new round in the struggle between the old and the new learning in human culture.
There reason for this new battle is evident. While we do not deny the value and the ongoing benefit of theoretical investigations of subject matters in the sciences and arts, we also recognize that the powerful development of this learning has left us in a deeply troubling situation. We possess great knowledge, but the knowledge is fragmented into so great an array of specializations that we cannot find connections and integrations that serve human beings either in their desire to know and understand the world or in their ability to act knowledgeably and responsibly in practical life.While many problems remain to be solved in the fields that currently characterize the old learning - and we must continue to seek better understanding through research in these areas - there are also new problems that are not well addressed by the old structure of learning and the old models of research.
It is a great irony that what was once the new learning is now the old learning, and what was the old learning is now the new learning. For I believe that is what has happened to design; it has become the new learning of our time, opening a pathway to the neoteric disciplines that we need if we are to connect and integrate knowledge from many specializations into productive results for individual and social life.To besure, those who practice, study, and investigate design in the contemporary world are themselves divided along paleoteric and neoteric lines. Some see no need for design research, and some see in the problems of design the need for research that is modeled on the natural sciences or the behavioral and social sciences as we have known them in the past and perhaps as they are adjusting to the present.But others see in the problems of design the need for new kinds of research for which there may not be entirely useful models in the past - the possibility of a new kind of knowledge, design knowledge, for which we have no immediate precedents. We face an ongoing debate within our own communityabout the role of tradition and innovation in design thinking.
Without developing this theme further at the moment, I want to suggest that our discussions of design research hold open the possibility of a core insight regarding a new kind of university that is information today and that will emerge more clearly in the next century.The old, venerable universities will remain withus because they contribute valuable knowledge that must be disseminated through well-educated individuals. But there may be a new kind of university that will also have value. It will be a university that prizes theory but does not disdain practice and does not ignore the distinct problems of, and the need for substantive knowledge about, making or production. Making products - and by “product” I mean a range of phenomena that is very broad, including information, artifacts, activities, services, and policies, as well as systems and environments - is the connective activity that integrates knowledge from many fields for impact on how we live our lives. This new kind of university - and there may be only a few of them in the future - will discover a dynamic balance among theory, practice and production, a balance that we do not now find in the vision of most universities today.
R. Buchanan, “Design Research and the New Learning,” Des. Issues, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 3–23, Oct. 2001.