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Design capital: practice and situated learning in London design agencies

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Abstract:

This paper considers the relations between practice, knowledge and context in design consultancies. It uses a case study of design consultancies in London based on in-depth interviews with designers working in design agencies in the city. The paper argues that the relations between design knowledge and context have been conceived in two ways. The first account emphasises the sharing of tacit knowledge in a design community marked by relatively strong and durable social ties. The second approach argues instead that design is a creative collectivity with much weaker social ties and a broader range of types of knowledge. It is argued that while both of these approaches illuminate parts of situated learning and context in design consultancies, these are actually more complex and mixed than either account recognises. Both accounts overlook the crucial importance of what are termed medium-strength ties between designers and their clients that combine market contracts with personal regard and friendship. The paper concludes by suggesting that such medium ties are increasingly important in design-based innovation systems.

Keywords: London; collectivity; community; design; knowledge; situated learning

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-5661.2011.00431.x

Publication date: 2011-07-01

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