Professional practice provides a context which requires design to be performed as an efficient and linear process (which may be a determining factor in the sustainability of practices). Research is an increasingly important component of accountability for design decisions.
In response to an environment in which graduates may not be fully prepared for the changes in, or the collaboration required by, contemporary design practice, the provision of a professional masters programme is organised as a simulated practice. Students act as associates in a practice with an established approach, knowledge base, culture, and documentation standards. This replaces idiosyncratic student outputs. The studio is considered not as the physical learning environment, but as the vehicle for a project-based learning strategy which allows the studio to generate synergy between the research and professional activities of staff and the learning activities of students.
The construction of a theoretical model clarifies the interrelationship of technical, conceptual, and professional knowledge areas embedded in the simulation (which is informed by two sets of design theory: altering architecture and the imaginal interior). The result is a hermeneutic model of the research-engaged design process.
This research illustrates how a master’s interior treatise is compiled as the result of a cumulative and linear process with design and research as reciprocal activities. It is significant since this contributes to the conceptual movement of design as personal, individual expressions towards design as the result of collaborative processes and contextual responses. Students are specifically instructed in the processes and outcomes of the various investigations they have to conduct to create and defend their projects.
A simulated practice may produce an enabling studio with realistic expectations. Individual activities are coordinated to deliver consistent outputs to set quality standards. This provides a structured approach which supports the emancipation of the individual.
Keywords: simulated practice, studio, treatise