Design, Rhetoric, Knowledge – some notes on grasping, influencing and construction the world
Paper i proceeding, 2007

In order to understand, grasp and gain knowledge about the often chaotic world around us the strategies that we today know as the disciplines science, art, philosophy etc. have been developed. In contemporary discussions on the relations between research, design, science and art one can be surprised of how deep the chasms has become between different fields of knowledge. The big and urgent question is how we more consciously can elucidate, raise the status for and systematically make use of all the knowledge that is produced outside of the borders of what is considered “scientific”, a territory in where architecture and design mostly work. The philosopher Mats Rosengren argues that all knowledge and truths are created by us, and he sketches another kind of theory of knowledge – a doxology. Since no truth, evidence or knowledge exists outside its human context, the rhetoric based on the good argumentation is central to all knowledge, according to Rosengren. Rhetoric can become a tool for scientific inquiries into our human knowledge. In the same way as rhetoric can say something about certain situations, the paper argues that the architectural project can be able to do so as well. Rhetoric is of great importance within all architectural practice, you have to present good arguments for your proposal to a broad audience. Richard Buchanan has argued that a new conception of design is needed, recognizing the inherently rhetorical dimension of all design thinking. Design and architecture as knowledge producing activities can be of many kinds. Designs and proposals can, as doxology, be a way of showing prevailing relations, norms, values, and truths in specific situation. Thereby can also unexpected solutions be shown, surprising possibilities that where not thought of before, that where “impossible”, maybe “unacceptable” within the doxa, before they where given a form and presented. Here design thinking and new doxological notions of knowledge can give new ways of producing knowledge.




design theory


Fredrik Nilsson

Chalmers, Arkitektur

Design Inquiries. The Second Nordic Design Conference