Immodest proposals: Research through design and knowledge

Jeffrey Bardzell, Shaowen Bardzell, Lone Koefoed Hansen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

107 Scopus citations


This paper offers theoretical support for research through design (RTD) by arguing that to legitimize and make use of research through design as research, HCI researchers need to explore and clarify how RTD objects contribute to knowledge. One way to pursue this goal is to leverage knowledge-producing tactics of the arts and humanities traditions of aesthetics, key among which is a communitywide and ongoing critical analysis of aesthetic objects. Along these lines, we argue that while the intentions of the object's designer are important and annotations are a good mechanism to articulate them, the critical reception of objects can be equally generative of RTD's knowledge impacts. Such a scholarly critical reception is needed because of the potential inexhaustibility of design objects' meanings, their inability to be paraphrased adequately. Offering a multilevel analysis of the (critical) design fiction Menstruation Machine by Sputniko!, the paper explores how design objects co-produce knowledge, by working through complex design problem spaces in non-reductive ways, proposing new connections and distinctions, and embodying design ideas and processes across time and minds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2015 - Proceedings of the 33rd Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Subtitle of host publicationCrossings
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781450331456
StatePublished - Apr 18 2015
Event33rd Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2015 - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: Apr 18 2015Apr 23 2015

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings


Other33rd Annual CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2015
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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