Seminar: Utilizing Art and Design Practice as a Method for Research Inquiry

A402 (6-7 May), A301 (8 May)

Algus k.p.:


Lõpp k.p.:

Date: 6–8 May 2019 at 10.00 – 15.30

Venue: Estonian Academy of Arts, Põhja pst 7, room A402 (6-7 May), A301 (8 May)

Lecturer: Nithikul Nimkulrat


Practice-based research[1]has been adopted by creative practitioners in various art and design disciplines for over three decades. Its basic proposition is that “not only is practice embedded in the research process but research questions arise from the process of practice, the answers to which are directed toward enlightening and enhancing practice” (Candy and Edmonds 2018, p. 63). An emphasis on the contribution of research outcomes from practice-based research is that new knowledge is generated to inform creative practice and such knowledge may at times only be obtainable by means of practice.


Whilst artifacts created from within a research project is viewed as an integral part of the practice-based research process, they are expected to be placed in context through written theses and/or disseminated in published papers. By the necessity of written theses in academic research, reflection and documentation of the creative process and the overall research process is unavoidable (Nimkulart 2007).

This seminar aims to assist art and design students in situating their creative artifacts in research (Nimkulrat 2013) and in designing and structing their research conduct that involves their own practice as a research method based on their research questions initially set. This is not to understand practice as research. Practice is not research but can play a significant role in research.


The seminar will focus on the following research components:

  1. Research question– Why would art and design practice be necessary for answering it?
  2. Research process– How is it constructed based on the research question? Where is art and design practice located within the research process? How is documentation performed throughout the processes? How does reflection drive the process further and transform the research question initially set?
  3. Artifacts– Do they answer or support the written thesis to answer the research question?

In addition, the seminar will highlight how documentation functions as a research tool for capturing the practitioner-researcher’s reflection in- and on- action (Mäkelä and Nimkulrat 2018).


To participate in the seminar, please send an abstract (250 words) that describes their PhD project and includes a few photos of artifacts and their processes, if any, to elika.kiilo@artun.eeby 1 May 2019. Please note that a primary research question must be clearly stated in the abstract.

In preparation for the seminar, participants will be asked to read

Candy, L. and Edmonds E. (2018). Practice-Based Research in the Creative Arts: Foundations and Futures from the Front Line. Leonardo 51(1), 63–69.

Mäkelä, M., & Nimkulrat, N. (2018). Documentation as Practice-Led Research Tools for Reflection on Experiential Knowledge. FORMakademisk 11(2).


Nimkulrat, N. (2007). The Role of Documentation in Practice-Led Research. Journal of Research Practice, 3(1), Article M6.

Nimkulrat, N. (2009). Paperness: Expressive Material in Textile Art from an Artist’s Viewpoint (pp. 34–38). Helsinki, Finland: University of Art and Design Helsinki.

Nimkulrat, N. (2013). Situating Creative Artifacts in Art and Design Research. FORMakademisk, 6(2), Article 4. DOI:


The seminar is open to PhD students. Registration is open until 30.04.2019.

Registration form


Nithikul Nimkulrat is a practitioner-researcher who intertwines research with textile practice, focusing on experiential knowledge in craft processes in the context of design research. Prior to her current appointment as a Tenured Associate Professor at OCAD University in Canada in December 2018, Nithikul has worked at Estonian Academy of Arts, Loughborough University, and Aalto University, where she earned a doctorate in 2009. Nithikul is an elected council member of the Design Research Society (DRS), the convenor of the DRS Special Interest Group on Experiential Knowledge (EKSIG), and the leader of the Cumulus Association’s Fashion and Textile Working Group.

[1]The term “practice-based research” is chosen over “artistic research” and “practice-led research” to be used in the workshop in order to give practice a general role in scholarly research. For differentiation in meaning of different terms, see Nimkulrat (2009, pp. 34–38) and Candy and Edmonds (2018, pp. 64–65).



This event is organised by the Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts, supported by the ASTRA project of the Estonian Academy of Arts – EKA LOOVKÄRG (European Union, European Regional Development Fund).

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