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  • Richard Herriott

Tacit knowledge

Mareis, C. (2012). The epistemology of the unspoken: On the concept of tacit knowledge in contemporary design research. Design Issues, 28(2), 61-71.




Mareis begins this text with the statement “The concept of tacit knowledge has advanced to become a prolific guiding principle in contemporary design research. In their attempts to describe knowledge within the scope of design, design researchers frequently draw on this concept and its related references”. This can be set against a point made by Nigel Cross a long time ago. Cross (1982, p 224): “What designers know about their own problem-solving processes remains largely tacit knowledge[1] …teachers of design have a responsibility to be as articulate as they possibly can about what it is they are trying to teach, or else they can have no basis for choosing the content and methods of their teaching”. (Cross, N (1982) Designerly Ways of Knowing. Design Studies. Vol 3., No. 4 October 1982 pp 221-227). The Mareis article is another of those that is too long to boil down into a short lump. It does invite questions as to the role of tacit knowledge as a either an explanation or non-explanation of designers´ knowledge. To that end, I´ve begin to look into analysis of Polanyi from the field of knowledge management. More on this in due course.


There is a reference in the Marais paper to another one we might want to have a look at:

Scrivener, S. (2021). The art object does not embody a form of knowledge revisited. In The Routledge International Handbook of Practice-Based Research (pp. 277-291). Routledge.


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