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The Design Research Society was founded in the UK in 1966. The origins of the Society lay in the Conference on Design Methods, held in London in 1962, which enabled a core of people to be identified who shared interests in new approaches to the process of designing.

The purpose of the DRS, as embodied in its first statement of rules, was to promote ‘the study of and research into the process of designing in all its many fields'. This established the intention of being an interdisciplinary, learned society. The DRS promoted its aims through a series of one-day conferences and the publication of a quarterly newsletter to members.

However, within a few years, fruitless attempts to establish a published journal, and equally fruitless internal debate about the Society's goals led to inactivity. The Society was revived by its first major international conference, on Design Participation, held in Manchester in 1971. At that conference a meeting of DRS members led to a call for a special general meeting of the Society, and to changes of officers and council members. Subsequently, a series of international conferences was held through the 1970s and 80s: in London (1973), Portsmouth (1976, 1980), Istanbul (1978), and Bath (1984).

In the mid-1970s DRS also collaborated with the Design Methods Group, based in the USA, including publishing a joint journal, Design Research and Methods. By the late 1970s there was enough enthusiasm, and evidence of design research activity around the world, for the DRS to approach IPC Press (now Elsevier) with a successful proposal for its own journal. Design Studies, the international journal for design research, was launched in 1979.

A new biennial series of DRS conferences began in 2002 with the 'Common Ground' conference in London. See the Conferences page for the series to date. For the 2016 Conference 50th Anniversary, research looking at the history of the DRS was commissioned and which you can view here.


Chairs of the DRS

  Current Rebecca Cain
  2019 - 22 Peter Lloyd
  2016 - 19 Tracy Bhamra
  2009 - 16 Seymour Roworth-Stokes
  2006 - 09 Chris Rust
  1998 - 06 David Durling
  1994 - 98 Conall O'Cathain
  1990 - 94 Sebastian Macmillan
  1988 - 90 Bruce Archer
  1984 - 88 Robin Jacques
  1982 - 84 James Powell
  1980 - 82 Nigel Cross
  1977 - 80 Thomas Maver
  1973 - 77 Sydney Gregory
  1971 - 73 John Chris Jones
  1969 - 71 William Gosling
  1967 - 69 John Page


Honorary Presidents of the DRS

  Current  Rachel Cooper
  2006 - 17 Nigel Cross
  2000 - 06 Richard Buchanan
  1992 - 00 Bruce Archer