1. Scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact.
    1. Course of action tentatively adopted without being sure of the outcome.


  1. Perform a scientific procedure, especially in a laboratory, to determine something.
    1. Try out new ideas or methods.

Experimentation is the term used at Design Academy Eindhoven to refer to the process when a designer is trying out as many possible options as he sees or finds, usually within the confines of using a certain material, construction or technique, within a (self-)determined framework. It is related to both the thinking and the making process. In contrast with experimenting in a scientific way, at Design Academy Eindhoven experimenting is a more open process, not restricted by scientific procedures, specific (laboratory) environments, a specific hypothesis that needs testing or a theory that needs to be developed. Instead, experimenting results in a series of designs that can not and should not, in the end, be replaced by theory. Experimenting involves iterating, repeating design and research activities in slightly different ways to get to different results. Failure is inherent in experimenting because unexpected results are to be expected. If you know what the result of your action will be, it cannot be an experiment. Hence, experimenting favours a very open ended way of doing research.

This does not mean that experimenting at Design Academy Eindhoven is random. Many design research projects at the academy combine experiments with a thorough reflection on the results and methods, something we have named thinking-through-making. Based on iterative experiments, one can glean an understanding about the ‘behaviour’ and possibilities of a certain material or technique, both in a very tangible way, as well as in a more intellectual way in the form of knowledge. Less palpable experiments, like envisaging future scenario’s or speculative designs, or asking ‘what if’ questions, also benefit from the combination of making and thinking. When experimental thinking is required, experimental making may help, and vice versa.

As a design researcher, the results from experimenting are never simply either right or wrong – in contrast to applying a scientific method where mistakes could be pointed out with respect to the prescribed systematic approach. In adopting an experimental way of working, design researchers can not only create surprising results, they can also stumble upon and create alternative new methods.

DAE examples

  • Lenneke Langenhuijzen, Wooden textiles, Graduation project Man and Well-Being, 2011