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Form Beyond Function: practice-based research in objects, environment and meaning

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2011
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainable Design
Number of pages12
Original languageEnglish


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