Design + Research


Research, rooted in the scientific method, provides a methodology for analyzing and understanding our world in a replicable, rational way. Design, rooted in creativity and imagination, is a process for solving problems with elegance and beauty. Both are required to meet the challenges of contemporary society.

We need, more than ever, clear-headed understanding of the problems we face — yet analysis, bound by the strictures of proof, fact, and the verifiably true, only describes our situation, providing no way forward. We need imagination in order to tackle the complex (and seemingly intractable) challenges of food, energy, and social justice — yet on its own, the world of design often yields overly-simplified, ineffective solutions, or simple visual novelty — entertaining, tantalizing, even inspiring, but fundamentally disengaged with (even cynical toward) the urgent need for change.

In order to solve our most pressing challenges, design must marry the vibrant creativity of the arts with the deep rigor of the sciences. We need unbridled creativity — yes! — but we also must be able to evaluate our options, measure our progress, and render transparent our decision-making in order to engage in the collective discourse that necessarily underlies just social change, and to avoid the unintended consequences that so often accompany our inventions. It is through such synthesis that answers, beautiful and complex, will emerge.

copyright © 2013 by carl s. sterner, unless otherwise noted. more...