Ways of Drifting—Five Methods of Experimentation in Research Through Design

  • Peter Gall KroghEmail author
  • Thomas Markussen
  • Anne Louise Bang
Conference paper
Part of the Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies book series (SIST, volume 34)


Design experiments are claimed to be a core means of inquiry in the research tradition of research-through-design. However, it is rarely articulated how the experiments were carried out in order to test a hypothesis, to begin a fruitful journey into unexplored design terrain or just gradually build knowledge. On the basis of the analysis of ten PhD theses we provide a typology comprised of five forms of design experiments in research-through-design. This provides a general outline of the characteristics which point to the methodological roles that design experiments and design work may acquire in research-through-design. Our typology of design experiments in research-through-design accounts both for relations between major cases and iterations embodied in detailed sketches and prototypes. The purpose of the typology is to provide an overview that respects and account for the less-than-ideal way design research actually happens: process-loops where hypothesis, experiments, and insights concurrently affect one another and result in a drift of research focus and continued adjustment of experiments to stabilize the research endeavour.


Research-through-design Methods Experiments 



We would like to thank all the international PhD students who participated in the series of three doctoral courses focusing on research-through-design that we organized from 2012–2014 and who helped us critically access the various forms of experimentation in design research. Furthermore we’d like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable and insightful comments and Richard Herriott for helping with editing.


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Copyright information

© Springer India 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Gall Krogh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas Markussen
    • 2
  • Anne Louise Bang
    • 2
  1. 1.Platform ReformAarhus School of ArchitectureAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Design School KoldingKoldingDenmark

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