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No one expects the design inquisition: Searching for a metaphorical solution for thinking, researching and writing through design

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The authors would like to rethink the suitability of the metaphor rigour for design research and writing, and to propose a metaphor more suited to the purposes and possibilities of designing. We identify and reappropriate the inquisitorial approach and suggest inquisition as a more suitable metaphor for design,since it can encompass positive and optimistic qualities that designers need to develop their practice. This approach to research is one that designers can usefully adopt through their thinking and writing, and can be practically applied to their research practices. Moreover, we suggest that this approach is intended to better facilitate the designer’s research practice with writing and languaging as key tools in the design research process. This co-written article is a reflection on John Wood’s (2012:11–26) recent paper ‘In the cultivation of research excellence – is rigour a no-brainer?’ and his seminal article ‘The culture of academic rigour: Does design research really need it?’ (2000:44–57). As collaborators for many years, we also refer to our research, scholarship and teaching practices and the positive experiences of students’ purposeful writing as part of the Writing-PAD network’s debates ( and the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice (,id=154/)).

Keywords: designing; inquisition/; inquisitorial; languaging; purposeful; thinking through; writing

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Goldsmiths, University of London 2: Oslo National Academy of the Arts

Publication date: 2012-11-20

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Writing in Creative Practice is the official organ of the Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) network. It offers art and design institutions an arena in which to explore and develop the notion of thinking through writing as a parallel to visual discourse in art and design practice. The journal aims to extend the debates to all national and international higher educational art and design institutions.
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