Ethics and the Research Process in Design


Yesterday our tutor Rob, showed us a very interesting film about Patricia Moore. Although the name is probably not widely recognised outside the industry, many people will have used her OXO kitchen tools.

Moore’s work is regarded as defining in pioneering ‘inclusive design’: that is, building products which take into account the naturally ‘disabling’ process of a particular life stage. In her case she focused on older people, spending three years living the life of a pensioner, with many of the attendant difficulties.  Beyond this extraordinary feat of what one might call ‘method designing’, the issue of ethics was raised. Was it fair to mislead the general public, many of whom offered their help, assuming her to be elderly and infirm?

It made me think back to the psychologists Phillip Zimbardo and Stanley Milgram and their seminal work on authority and obedience in the 1970s. Now considered too controversial to…

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