Keywords: research through design, practice-based research, sustainability, product design, spiritual values, substantive values, form beyond function, form follows meaning, quadruple bottom line, triple bottom line, localisation, sustainable design
Form beyond function: practice-based research in objects, environment and meaning
This paper presents an overview of practiced-based research conducted over the last four years that explores new directions in product design. The research addresses the challenges of sustainability, including localisation of design and production, as well as substantive values and deeper, enduring understandings of human meaning. The approach iteratively combines scholarly inquiry, reasoned argument and the development of theory with speculative explorations to create tangible design propositions that both inform and exemplify the theoretical concepts. These propositional objects, together with the theoretical and philosophical ideas that informed their development, are an example of creative 'academic-practice'. The direction taken recognises that the proliferation of product functionality via microprocessor-based technologies effectively frees 'form' to address other areas of significance ? taking form beyond function to express deeper human meanings.