The latent practitioner: Latent discovery processes in designing

    Murty, Paul
    Purcell, Terry
    The Education of Future Architects


ABSTRACT: This paper describes an interview study of forty five architects and designers. The study
assesses the extent to which designing is insightful, by investigating respondent experiences of
discoveries, and of latent designing or preparation. Discoveries that emerge when individuals are
designing, are called hot discoveries. Discoveries occuring when respondents are not designing, an
apparent outcome of latent preparation, are referred to as cold discoveries. The evidence from the
research suggests that designing is insightful and that cold discoveries are more important than is
currently recognized. Latent peparation is widespread, has different forms and results in different
outcomes. It can resemble what is commonly called incubation, but ranges between active conscious
designing and passive apparent unconscious activity. It is clearly not only an unconscious process.
This suggests one or more things; 1) incubation is only a component of latent designing, 2) the view of
incubation as an unconscious process does not fully account for the range of insightful experiences of
designers, or 3) whether incubation is a conscious or unconscious process is not critical to design
cognition. The paper concludes by considering prospects for further research and how the outcomes
could influence education.


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