Distributed Thinking through Making: Towards a relational ontology in practice-led design research

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Practice-led design research is a celebrated but debated field of inquiry. Although it offers a fitting approach to advance design knowledge through and within making, its scope remains limited to the scale of individual practice. Such a limitation hinders the possibility to account for particular design instances in relation to more general contexts. To address this issue, the paper at hand presents an exploratory literature review discussing why practice-led design research may benefit from adopting a relational ontology—i.e., a stance wherein to be is to relate. The review identifies two streams of relational thinking that exhibit potential overlaps with practice-led design research: sociomateriality and distributed cognition theory. In revealing these overlaps, I introduce the term “distributed thinking through making” to formulate a novel framework from which to reconsider the ontological dimension of practice in practice-led design research. The term illuminates a research gap that appears especially relevant to empirical studies in which making constitutes both the platform and the focus of inquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
EventNordic Design Research Conference - Kolding, Denmark
Duration: 15 Aug 202118 Aug 2021
Conference number: 9


ConferenceNordic Design Research Conference
Abbreviated titleNORDES
Internet address


  • Design
  • Distributed Cognition
  • Making
  • Practice-led Research
  • Relationality
  • Sociomateriality

Field of art

  • Design

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