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Design Studies Best Paper 2020: 'Crafters, explorers, innovators, and co-creators: Narratives in designers’ identity work'

The DRS recently awarded the 2020 Best Paper in Design Research to 'Crafters, explorers, innovators, and co-creators: Narratives in designers’ identity work'. We reached out to Professor Tua Björklund, one of the article's co-authors, to learn more about her work and the authors' process behind the winning article.

Can you tell us a bit more about the context of the article? 

We started out looking at design practices across different stakeholders in an international design agency. However, identity was something that emerged in the interviews with interesting dynamics - designers were shifting their narratives of design work hand in hand with different facets of their own identities and their organization. At the same time, despite representing a wide variety of specializations, nationalities and experience levels, the same stories around crafting, learning, innovating and co-creation kept popping up. Having a stable "home base" community connection was an importance balance for the inherent uncertainty connected to novelty in creative work.

What does "design research" mean to you?

Herbert Simon's take on design as "changing existing situations into preferred ones" really resonates with me - design comes in so many shapes and sorts, yet despite subfield specifics, there's an underlying focus in research of trying to understand this creation process.

How has the DRS supported your work in design research?

DRS conferences and publications provide a great forum for design researchers across different disciplines to share their thoughts and discuss. I find this interaction really valuable.

What are your hopes for the future of design research?

I hope the active dialog between theory and practice will continue, and that design research can further consolidate connections across disciplines to form a solid, evidence-based understanding of effective design practices. Many design-relevant phenomena like framing connect to several fields, and design has a lot to offer in developing theoretical frameworks with wide applicability.

Do you have any favourite design research resources?

Design Studies is a great way to stay not only on top of current research, but I also like to incorporate many of the study results and cases into my teaching.

Where can people find out more about you and your work?

www.designfactory.aalto,fi, or @TuaBjorklund on Twitter.

 

You can find the full paper at this link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0142694X2030020X