Multiple intelligibility in constructive design research: The case of empathic design

Jung Joo Lee*, Ilpo Koskinen, Jack Whalen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
187 Downloads (Pure)


This paper studies intelligibility in constructive design research, in which the main instrument of knowledge creation is design. Constructive design research is situated between design practice and research, meaning it has to build on practices that make it intelligible to many audiences. We call this multiple intelligibility, examining it through the case of an empathic design program in Helsinki, Finland. The case focuses on how the designers in the program have managed to build a practice that is intelligible for different audiences. By looking into the practical grounds of the research program as a topic of analysis, we study theoretical practices that create connections to research, methodic practices that create a connection to practice and recipient design practices that lie at the heart of intelligibility in empathic design. Based on the findings of the case, we suggest policies for constructive design research to manage multiple intelligibility across different audiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-67
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Design
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Constructive Design Research
  • Empathic Design
  • Intelligibility
  • Research through Design
  • Service Design


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