1. Please introduce yourself, your role in the DRS and your research.
I've been associated with the DRS for longer than I care to remember! - nearly twenty years. In that time I've been a regular member, member of council, membership secretary, vice-chair, chair, and now treasurer on the Executive Board. I was also Editor-in-Chief for Design Studies for 6 years, before the current fiasco with Elsevier. For my research I have always been fascinated by the process of design - particularly in terms of cognition and collaboration. My main focus has been on the language that is used and generated during designing and this has led to recent studies using large language models and AI.
2. Could you talk about the initiatives you’re involved with in the DRS and any upcoming events you’d like to share?
Over the years I've been involved with many DRS initiatives but always in collaboration with others. A long time ago, I started the student bursary scheme, I organised the 50th Anniversary DRS2016 conference in Brighton as well as co-organising the 2022 conference in Bilbao, I launched the new DRS website and brand 2017, and started the Digital Library in 2020.
3. What do you see as the benefits of being involved with the DRS and how can those interested become more involved in the Society?
Being involved with the DRS means that you are part of a global network of design researchers who are all working to progress the discipline. That can certainly be done within an individual institution, but being part of the Society can give you support and confidence that you are working on things that matter. Getting involved at the level of the Advisory Council or Executive Board is very good for your career development. You get first hand experience of what it takes to run an international organisation and help guide the field of design research - a big responsibility, but also a very satisfying position to be in. I would say to people who would like to be more involved, don't wait to be asked, make a proposal and send it to the Executive Board. The future of the Society depends on people taking initiative.
The DRS Digital Library is becoming a great resource for design researchers but also for people wanting to find out what design research is. We are approaching half a million downloads and continue to add more papers and publications.
My five choices are:
1. Nicholas Negroponte - Aspects of Living in an Architecture Machine
My first choice reflects the rich history of the DRS and the people that were involved in the early conferences, many of whom went on to be very well known. This paper is from the 'Design Participation' conference, held in 1971 with proceedings edited by Nigel Cross. Nicholas Negroponte went on to co-found and direct the MIT Media Lab but here he writes as an Assistant Professor of Architecture. To quote from the paper: “Participation and computation have a commonality that is often not dramatized […] they both are involved with methods of designing that in some sense shortcircuit or replace the services of a professional architect”.
The paper is sketchy - illustrating the fluidity of ideas at the time - and of its time - with some questionable cultural assumptions made - but notable for its discussion of AI. Even in 1971, AI wasn't a new thing!
The paper is from page 63-67 at the following link:
2. Susan Stewart - On reason and habit: An Aristotelian Approach to Design Theory
The La Clusaz conference on Doctoral Education in Design, held in 2000 with proceedings edited by Ken Friedman and David Durling, represents a key stage in the development of design research. The edited book links design theory with doctoral education and influenced many doctoral programmes around the world. The paper I've selected, by Susan Stewart, is a great example of clear and philosophical thinking about the nature of designing.
The paper is from page 127-132 at the following link:
3. Susanna Engbers - Branded: The Sister Arts of Rhetoric and Design
In 2013 the DRS formed an official partnership with the Cumulus organisation at a conference on Design Education in Oslo, Norway. The conference, organised by Erik Bohemia and Liv Merete Nielsen, attracted a huge number of papers and kickstarted the Learn X Design conference series. This paper by Susanna Engbers looked at how the disciplines of rhetoric and design have much to learn about each other, and to teach students.
4. Eva Knutz, Thomas Markussen, Signe Thomsen, and Jette Ammentorp - Designing for Democracy: Using Design Activism to Renogotiate the Roles and Rights for Patients
DRS2014 took place in Umea, Sweden and started a new direction for DRS conferences though its inclusion of new submission formats and high quality design values. It also had a lot of interesting papers. The paper I have selected is one that I regularly use in my own courses and never fails to open the eyes of students about the power relationships that exist in healthcare design processes and how to explore them. A great paper for anyone interested in design and democracy.
5. Larissa Pschetz, Michelle Bastian, and Chris Speed - Temporal Design: Looking at Time as Social Coordination
DRS2016 was the 50th Anniversary conference for the DRS and the biggest DRS conference at that time. It was great celebration of past, present, and future. This is both a conceptual and an empirical paper about notions of time in the design process. It manages to be analytical, critical, and speculative - a difficult balance to pull off. The paper is a great reminder that everything is a social construct during the process of thinking about the future through design, even the things we think of as objective.