This paper gives a general and logical analysis of the expert position in design research by which methods for innovative design can be derived from expert design practices. It first gives a framework for characterising accounts of design by the way in which they define and relate general, descriptive and prescribed types of design practices. Second, it analyses with this framework the expert position’s conservatism of prescribing existing expert design practices to non-expert designers. Third, it argues that the expert status of expert designers does not provide sufficient justification for prescribing expert design practices to non-expert designers; it is shown that this justification needs support by empirical testing. Fourth, it discusses validation of design methods for presenting an approach to this testing. One consequence of the need to empirically test the expert position is that its prescription has to be formulated in more detail. Another consequence is that it undermines the expert position since expert design practices are not anymore certain sources for deriving design methods with. Yet it also opens the expert position to other sources for developing design methods for innovation, such as the practices of contemporary designers and the insights of design researchers.
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