Research is always a tool that I employ when I design something. It is important to see first what has been successful from past designs first, to make decisions on what I am designing. If I choose to design a web site, I first look at similar sites. While at Pratt Institute, I took a class called "Directed Research." This was exactly what we did in the class. Interviewing, shadowing, and looking, BEFORE designing. But also brainstorming and ideation were important factors that we used to come up with the final design. As it says in the reading, it is rare to find someone that does not have to do research on a subject before delving into it.
When designing a product for a client, we would first follow them around for an entire day. The assignment was to design something that would improve their life. To do that, we would follow them in their daily activities and document this with photos, video, text ect.. As well as interviewing them and asking many questions.
I often would think that I would know right off the bat what I wanted to design, but with just a little research, the design would only grow in its success and power. By immersing oneself in subject matter, we only learn more of what is needed and what is not.
Here is an example of a product I designed for a "Client": It was called "Fruity Pillow". A series of biomorphic pillows that I actually designed and built myslelf. But before doing this, I also had to research HOW to build it. Employing the fashion department and a friend of mine to shwo me the process of sewing and designing a stuffed pillow:
The pillows in action
The pillows by themselves.
My client was a painter that would do most of her work in her living space and would hang out with friends in the process. The idea was to make portable, modular, functional, and beautiful surfaces that she could use to accommodate herself and her friends while collaborating.