Joanna Bletcher

Current research/thesis title:

Curating design innovation: an exploration of curatorial methodologies for an emerging design museum

"The thesis argues that communication and recognition of design as an intellectual and practical activity remains underdeveloped within industry and academia."

Industry Sponsor: V&A Museum of Design Dundee

This research investigates communication of design through the method of exhibition in museum environments. It seeks to identify how the new forms and theories of design challenge existing models of curatorial practice, and what changes (if any) should be considered when trying to increase public understanding of the value of design, particularly in the context of Scottish design heritage and its relevance for contemporary innovation.

Within the research, design is considered to be a way of thinking and a practice: an approach to stimulating innovation through framing, exploring and creating solutions for addressing complex problems. The thesis argues that communication and recognition of design as an intellectual and practical activity remains underdeveloped within industry and academia. The ambition for meaningful audience engagement and learning within public museums creates an ideal place in which to begin addressing this imbalance.

The research uses case study methodology to bring together the broader contexts of museum practice, design research and curation with the specificities of a small number of ‘cases’ of curatorial practice, chosen through purposeful sampling. A contextual review of exhibitions, events and other forms of audience engagement will complement the methods of interview, participant observation, document analysis and reflective diary used throughout the study, to question and develop criteria for evaluating design curation methodologies.

The studentship project is supported by the ESRC capacity building cluster, "Capitalising on Creativity", grant #res 187-24-0014 administered by the University of St Andrews, and conducted at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee, UK.