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Catalyst for change

  • Derek Jones posted an article
    DRS2018 Keynote Debates announced see more

    DRS2018 Conference Keynote Debates Announced

    Anyone who has attended a DRS conference will know that the Keynote Debates have always provoked debate an acted as catalysts and prompt for wider discussion in the design research community. The DRS2018 conference debate themes look set to continue this with some superb speakers, moderators and topics. Here's the full line up.




    Design Research & Industry Impacts

    (Tuesday 26 June 2018)

    Moderator: Prof. Alex Milton

    Participants: Lorna Ross, Paul A Rogers, and Mariana Amatullo

    'Design Research & Industry Impacts' explores the changing nature of design research and practice within academia and industry.

    Design is moving beyond merely being an instrumentalised tool for industry, and becoming an altruistic agent for, and of, change as well as a force for social innovation.

    More information...


    Social and Public

    (Wednesday 27 June 2018)

    Moderator: Dr. Simon O'Rafferty


    'Social and Public' will explore the changing contexts of design research and practice through the intersections between design for policy and social design.

    The debate will critically examine intersections between existing and emerging trends around design for policy, social design alongside other emerging perspectives such as systemic design, transition design and public service design. By exploring these intersections the debate will open a discussion in the relationships between the research, practice and education domains.

    More information...


    Whose Design?

    (Thursday 28 June 2018)

    Moderator: Dr. Andrea Botero

    Participants: Sadie Red Wing and Arturo Escobar

    'Whose Design?' poses questions around the sharing of counterpoints to the traditional design gazes.

    In asking “Whose Design?” we seek to explore diverse understandings and counterpoints to dominant design gazes, both from the perspective of design as a noun (what is it that particular designs do in the world?) and as a verb (how should we go about designing our way out of the current mess?).

    More information...

     April 12, 2018
  • Isabel Prochner posted an article
    Is 'Design so White' in Emerging Critical Design Studies? see more

    Reflection on Keynote Debate 3: Whose Design?

    As a follow-up to DRS2018, we invited select conference participants to reflect on the Keynote Debates and related conversations that took place during the conference. The article that follows responds to debate 3 - "Whose Design?: Sharing Counter Perspectives on Dominant Design Gazes." It was prepared by Renata M. Leitão (OCAD University) and Lesley-Ann Noel (Stanford University), track chairs of "Not Just from the Centre - Multiple Voices in Design" at DRS2018.



    Whose Design? Is 'Design so White' in Emerging Critical Design Studies?

    Throughout the DRS2018 keynote debates, a huge screen behind the speakers and the moderator showed questions asked by the audience, allowing for a certain participation in the debate. And still, the most asked question was not addressed for two days: “why is design so white?” As co-chairs of the track "Not Just from the Centre — Multiple Voices in Design," this question is central to our work. Not that we believe that design is itself white – as the practice of world-making, it is ubiquitous and widespread –, but mainstream narratives of what constitute “good and valid” design excludes non-Eurocentric perspectives.

    Even if that hot question was not addressed for two days, we could see a clear change in the demographics and interests of DRS delegates, compared to previous conferences. The rooms of critical tracks – such as "Designing for Transitions" and "Design, Research and Feminism(s)" – were completely crowded, contrasting with the empty rooms of a few more mainstream tracks. Critical conversations ranged from "A Feminine Approach to Design" to "Indigeneity and Mestizaje in Latin America." Around us, many discussions between delegates involved encouraging the participation of designers from the global South in DRS conferences. Indeed, we both played a part in the process of encouraging more designers of color to participate when we proposed our track.

    The question “why is design so white?” was addressed in the third Keynote Debate “Whose Design?: Sharing Counter Perspectives on Dominant Design Gazes” by Andrea Botero (moderator), Sadie Red Wing and Arturo Escobar. Dr Botero asked an important question: "for who is design so white?" Because from her perspective as a Latin American scholar who collaborates with other critical design scholars, design does not seem that white. Inspiring presentations from Indigenous designer Sadie Red Wing and from Prof. Arturo Escobar unveiled counter perspectives. Escobar argued that a field of transnational critical design studies is currently emerging. After three days of encouraging conversations about countering Anglo/Eurocentrism and oppressive perspectives in design among DRS delegates, we have to agree with Escobar.

    But still, developing transnational critical studies in design has some challenges. It is noticeable that the question “why is design so white?” was only addressed in the keynote debate between two Colombian academics and an Indigenous academic. The participants of the first two Keynote Debates where not able to address the most asked question. Are only non-Anglo/Eurocentric designers capable or expected to address this kind of question? We hope not, as this question is relevant for the role of design in building and transforming our world and its social structures.  Could white design scholars unlearn design Eurocentrism? Could North American and European designers learn from different perspectives and be able to constructively participate in the transformation of design research and practice? We have to believe the answer is a “yes.” And the promising conversations among DRS delegates need to be transformed into actions and new structures that allow for the unlearning of Eurocentrism in design.

    Escobar has asked how we can develop non-Eurocentric design work (Escobar, 2018). Design conferences are not known for being diverse spaces. It is not unusual to go to a design conference and count the people of color on one hand. Therefore, one of the first steps to answering this question would be to ensure that these spaces are more diverse. This DRS conference was inspiring because it was evidently more diverse and conversations about diversity were loud. The organisers even managed to facilitate distance participation of several presenters including Adolphe Yemtim from Burkina Faso and Octaviyanti Wahyurini from Indonesia. If we want to talk about diversity, multiple voices in design and constructing a non-European design imagination, we have to address the systemic challenges and barriers that make participation of designers from outside ‘The Centre’ so difficult. Both Yemtim and Wahyurini, among other presenters, faced visa challenges. Another participant withdrew his paper when he considered the cost of participation compared to his cost of living. The hegemony of the English language in design research also creates another barrier to participation. The conversations and participation at the DRS2018 were inspiring, but the challenges faced also remind us that so much more needs to be done.



    Renata M. Leitão, OCAD University

    Lesley-Ann Noel, Stanford University


    Escobar, A. (2018). Designs for the Pluriverse: Radical interdependence, autonomy, and the making of worlds. Durham: Duke University Press.

     December 31, 2018
  • Isabel Prochner posted an article
    The Impact of Design Research on Organizational Culture Change in Industry: Lessons from DRS2018 see more

    Reflection on Keynote Debate 1: Design Research and Industry Impacts

    As a follow-up to DRS2018, we invited conference participants to reflect on the keynote debates and related conversations that took place during the conference. The article that follows responds to debate 1 - "Design Research and Industry Impacts:  Exploring the changing nature of design research and practice within academia and industry." It was prepared by Chris Hammond (IBM Design) & Joyce Yee (Northumbria University), track chairs of "How Organisations Employ Design as a Vehicle for Change" at DRS2018. 



    The Impact of Design Research on Organizational Culture Change in Industry: Lessons from DRS2018

    On opening day of DRS2018, we heard that design is a key component of Ireland’s innovation agenda and that 20% of Ireland’s exports are design-driven. In the opening keynote debate exploring the changing nature of design research and its practice within academia and industry, Professor Paul Rodgers stated that designers are "facilitators of change." Lorna Ross added, "design is like science, it is a tool for understanding as well as for acting." In the two sessions of our curated track "How organisations employ design for change," we heard no shortage of case studies documenting the adoption of design to create increased value and differentiation. These studies featured a range of organisations: from large, multi-national companies to small businesses.

    It is evident that design brings value to organizations. The notion of changing culture through design is widespread but not well understood. Research typically focuses on methods to create better goods and services, but little exists on how organizational culture has evolved and what tactics were used to create new realities for employees. We observed this gap in our own track; few papers directly presented concrete evidence to the theme of long-term sustainable organisational change. Additionally, the majority of papers were overwhelmingly from academic researchers, not practitioners in the field. There seems to be significant interest on this topic, but the lack of practitioner papers and attendees suggest limited design research impact on industry.     

    The lack of academic research impact on industry practice isn’t a new problem and is not limited to design research. This gap reflects the realities of the different practices and cultures - not a lack of trying. Many academic papers are made inaccessible through a pay wall subscription format. But, impact on practice is an increasingly important issue. We need critical and long-term study in this field of growing importance for design. It would also help inform the research impact agenda in the UK and elsewhere. So, how do we encourage more interactions and engagement between design researchers and practitioners? How do we ensure we focus on evidencing long-term sustainable change while also responding to the changing needs of industry?

    In industry, design research involves making as a key research approach. We advance our understanding by not only tracking and understanding an ongoing phenomenon, but in participating in it - by prototyping and creating new future experiences and evaluating their impact. Investigation, understanding and framing are all important moments in design, but it is not until we make new experiences that we can begin to measure and assess the improved future state. This focus on action can create more meaningful interactions between academic researchers and practitioners.

    How might we plan experiments to inform knowledge on the topic? Where can we study long-term change over time? What other formats might bring about more meaningful interactions? Would organisations host a ‘researcher-in-residence’? Could the DRS as a traditionally academic-focused society be opened up to design researchers practising in industry or act as the bridge? Do we need intermediary organisations like think tanks to ‘translate’ research with industry, similar to the policy sector?

    Current forms of research dissemination don't have the desired impact on industry. What can we as a community do? With the current discourse on decolonising design and the re-evaluation of our existing frames of reference relating to design knowledge, it seems an opportune time to ask how we are using this knowledge to better inform practice. Effective organizational change requires a diversity of experiences and skills. As a community, what experiences need to be shared and how do we advance the research and the practical application? We’re ready to start. Help us to build a community of organisational change for academics and industry! 



    Chris Hammond, IBM Design

    Joyce Yee, Northumbria University

     November 15, 2018
  • Isabel Prochner posted an article
    Optimistic design power in Japan see more

    Reflection on Keynote Debate 2: Social & Public

    As a follow-up to DRS2018, we invited select conference participants to reflect on the Keynote Debates and related conversations during the conference. The article that follows responds to debate 2 - "Social & Public: Exploring changing contexts of design research and practice through the intersections between design for policy and social design." It was written by Shion Asada, PhD Student at RCA - IIS Tokyo Design Lab, University of Tokyo & Director/Design Researcher at Mimicry Design Inc. in Tokyo.



    Optimistic Design Power in Japan

    It’s clear from this Keynote Debate that many European countries employ design teams within government. There was a deep discussion about the role of design in, with and for government throughout the talk. This significant role and influence of design were surprising to me as a Japanese researcher, since it hasn’t typically been seen in my government. However, the Japan Patent Office, within the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), recently released a Design-Driven Management manifesto. This hints at a significant turning point for the role of design in Japan!

    This manifesto was originally developed by a study group consisting of government officials and design leaders like Kinya Tagawa from Takram, Chiaki Hayashi from Loftwork and Yutaka Hasegawa from Sony. They engaged in deep discussions about design and ultimately proposed that design should play a bigger role in business and governance, taking power from the management sector. They set policy recommendations to promote this design-driven management and held a bold trial of the policy within the Patent Office itself. This involved appointing a Creative Design Officer and design management project team to analyse and reimagine services from a user’s perspective. The team launched their first beta-version services this September, after only a month. This is an unbelievably fast move, especially considering it happened within the Japanese government!

    This manifesto and its quick adoption are like a flower that started to grow and then spread at incredible speed. Passionate young design leaders cultivated the groundwork for these results over many years, and helped open the way for followers in design and business fields. Just this month, Mr.Tagawa from Takram and Ms.Munakata from the Patent Office participated in a talk about the manifesto. Although I was unable to attend, I could sense extraordinary enthusiasm in the potential of design by following the event on Twitter and blogs. To quote Dr. Andrea Siodmok from the Keynote Debate, this recent event was filled with “optimistic design power.”

    This initiative is very promising. Japan has many issues to be addressed like an aging society, the dangers of earthquakes and industry structure. I believe design within government will encourage the spread of optimistic and positive design thinking in response to these problems.

    DRS 2018 was my first international design conference, as I just started my PhD this year. I was struck by the positive atmosphere and open-minded conference attendees working from many different perspectives. That said, there weren’t many Japanese participants, which makes me feel that we Japanese missed an amazing opportunity. I encourage other Japanese researchers to join the DRS community and potentially gain inspiration to further increase “optimistic design power” in Japan.

    You can read more about the Design-Driven Management manifesto in this news release and these study group proceedings



    Shion Asada, University of Tokyo

     December 20, 2018
  • Derek Jones posted an article
    Submissions closed for DRS2018 Conference in Limerick see more

    Submissions closed for DRS2018

    The final submission deadline for DRS2018 has passed and with 50 proposals for conversations and 63 for workshops submitted, the response has, once again, been incredible. These submission join the 559 papers submitted and 900 reviews that have taken place.

    Paper authors are reminded that revised papers are due for the 6 March deadline. Notification of Final Acceptance is scheduled for 27 March 2018. 

    Registration for the DRS2018 Conference is now open and further information can be found here.

    Look forward to Limerick and check out the Discover Limerick site and the conference website for information on the venue and location of the conference.

     February 26, 2018
  • Derek Jones posted an article
    Only a few weeks until #drs2018 see more

    Only a few weeks until #DRS2018

    There are only a few weeks to go until DRS Conference 2018 : 25-28 June in Limerick, IrelandThe conference schedule demonstrates the depth and diversity of design research around the world in 2018. Three keynote debates will be held on each day of conference; 21 Conversations will cover an incredible range of topics; and 16 Workshops will allow you to get involved with something different or just interesting.

    Other events to look forward to include PhD by Design on Monday; a Bread and Butter session with the Institute of Designers in Ireland on Tuesday; and the conference dinner in Limerick city centre at King John’s Castle and The Strand Hotel. Follow DRS2018 on Facebook and Twitter for more information and updates.

    Keep a special look out for members of the DRS Council at the conference and please come up to us and share your thoughts on the future of the DRS.

    We look forward to seeing some of you in person in Limerick and interacting with many more online at #DRS2018.

  • Derek Jones posted an article
    The call for DRS2018 Track Sessions is now open! see more

    The DRS2018 organisers are seeking Track Session Proposals that will act as a Catalyst for Change, the main theme for the conference.

    In DRS2018: ‘Design as a catalyst for change’ we will critically engage with our key research questions: How can design research help explore the changing territorial contexts of design practice and/or policy? How can design, as a catalyst, shape the relationship between research and practice? How can design, and social, economic and political change, shape each other?

    Track sessions

    To capitalise on emerging research networks, as well as existing networks not already covered by SIG areas, we welcome proposals for track sessions of full papers related to any area of design research.

    The aim of track sessions is to provide specific research themes for paper submissions. These sessions will be managed by sub-chairs as part of the general paper submission and final programme.  

    Sub-chairs will be responsible for promoting their track to potential authors, identifying and allocating reviewers, curating conference sessions, and sub-editing their specific track section for the proceedings. Tracks will require a minimum of four accepted papers.

    Proposals should consist of a title, proposed sub-chair/s for the session, a list of 2–3 key people who will assist in managing the track submissions, track context and an outline (up to 250 words), and a brief list of references (up to 5) to indicate the track scope.


    To allow us to publicise additional tracks prior to the full-paper deadline, track session proposals should be submitted to on or before the deadline of 16th May 2017.  

    Track session proposals will be reviewed by a subset of the programme committee with sub-chairs informed of outcomes within two weeks of the deadline.  Successful proposals will be publicised on the website as part of the conference Call for Papers.

    Submissions for successful track sessions will take place via the online submission system along with standard paper submissions.

     March 17, 2017
  • Derek Jones posted an article
    Recent Call for Track Session Themes attracts record submissions from the design research community. see more

    With 85 proposals for Theme Tracks, DRS2018 is off to a great start!

    The volume and range of topics submitted suggests that DRS2018 in Limerick will build on the success of last years 50th Anniversary conference in Brighton. There have been three times as many theme track proposals compared to 2016!

    The topics are spread across the entire design research spectrum - often overlapping but offering subtly distinctive framings of familiar themes and demonstrating the scale, depth and variety of design research around the world.

    The DRS2018 programme committee are currently reviewing all proposals and the outcomes will be made public in the coming weeks.

  • Derek Jones posted an article
    Design Research Society 2018 Conference track themes confirmed, revealing research patterns. see more

    The track themes have been announced for the DRS international Conference 2018 and the response was overwhelming from the design research community - 89 proposals submitted, a significant increase compared to the previous conference.

    The incredible energy of the design research community evident in DRS2016 is still very much there.

    24 themes were selected and organised by the academic committee and these show some interesting developments in topic since the 2016 conference.

    As Nigel Cross (1999) pointed out, as academics we tend to focus on the theory and thinking around design at the expense of the objects and tangible processes. This was reiterated in Alexandra’s student bursary project keynote at DRS 2016. Several of the themes this time round focus on the materiality of design and the physical process of designing - definitely an interesting move and one to look forward to in these themes:

    \ Tools of Design
    \ Physical and Digital Materials in Creative Design Practice
    \ The (Act of) Drawing in Design (Research)

    Having noted the point about the materiality of design, let’s not forget that the community of design theorists is most definitely still very active. Back on the list again are ethics and philosophy of design - these are topics that are often assumed within other themes so it will be particularly interesting to see what emerges by bringing these back into focus in DRS 2018. Look out for:

    \ Ethics, Values and Designer Responsibility
    \ Philosophical tools in Design Research: From empirical turn to practical

    Information design not only remains for 2018 but has been expanded to two sub-themes, perhaps reflecting current trends in Big Data, analysis, design and use of information. Interestingly, the design research community's reaction to the human (social, tangible, emotional, political, speculative) seems to continue to emerge - both in response to this specific topic as well as ongoing contexts of challenge. Again, another very interesting set of topics responding to wider themes:

    \ Designing with Data, Democratisation through Data
    \ Design, Technology and Society
    \ Designing for Transitions
    \ Deepening Systemics and Complexity in Design Research

    Another welcome inclusion is that of alternative perspectives in both the objects and subjects of design. At DRS2016, centrisms in research practice as well as the subjects of research were questioned, leading to continuing debate and adaption of ideas in the design research community. So it's great to see this represented in several themes in 2018 - look out for the following tracks:

    \ Design, Research and Feminism(s)
    \ Not just from the centre - multiple voices in design
    \ Designing social innovation in cultural diversity and sensitivity

    Interestingly, 3 of the DRS Special Interest Groups (SIGs) have sub-topics, perhaps highlighting recent trends in research topics:

    Design Research for Wellbeing, Health and Happiness (SIGWELL)

    \ Design for Subjective Wellbeing
    \ Health and Wellbeing by Design

    Design Pedagogy (PedSIG)

    \ Design Education for the General Public
    \ Design Education: Catalysing Design Capability

    Design Innovation Management (DIMSIG)

    \ How Organisations Employ Design as Vehicle for Change
    \ The Role of Design in Open Innovation

    Finally, as already mentioned, the DRS Special Interest Groups (SIGs) have their own themes:

    \ Experiential Knowledge (EKSig)
    \ Objects, Practices, Experiences and Networks (OPEN Sig): Material-Enabled Changes in Design Research and Practice​
    \ Inclusive Design (Inclusive Sig)
    \ Sustainable Design (Sustainability Sig)
    \ Design for Behaviour Change (Behaviour Change Sig)
    \ Design for Tangible, Embedded and Networked Technologies (TENTSig)

    Remember, the call for (full) papers in now open with a deadline of 6 November 2017. Papers can be submitted through the DRS2016 conftool system here:

    And you can find the template, full instructions and details of all the DRS 2018 tracks on the conference website here:

     September 22, 2017
  • Derek Jones posted an article
    DRS2018 Paper submission deadline extended to 14 November see more

    The full Paper Submission Deadline for the DRS conference 2018 has been extended to midnight on the 14 November 2017.

    Further information on submission can be found on the DRS website :

     November 01, 2017
  • Derek Jones posted an article
    DRS Conference 2018 - Calls for Conversations, Workshops and PhD by Design see more

    DRS2018 Limerick, 25th-28th June 2018.

    The final submission date for Workshops, Conversations, and PhD by Design to the DRS 2018 Conference is 15th February 2018.


    All submissions should be made through the DRS2018 ConfTool website:



    Call for Workshops

    Submission Deadline: 15th February 2017

    Workshops are half and full day sessions which provide an opportunity to learn in a practical and engaged way about the latest tools, methods and techniques of Design Research, Practice, and Education. They aim to bring together design researchers and design practitioners in academia, in the public sector, and in business and industry. Workshops will take place over the four days of the conference, though most will take place on Monday 25th June 2018. Further information and Workshop Template is available on the website.

    If you have queries please email


    Call for Conversations

    Submission Deadline: 15th February 2018

    Conversation is the DRS2018 format for sessions conceived as alternative to the traditional paper/presentation format, with the ambition of providing innovative venues for project-based research and work that is not easily captured or conveyed by the scholarly paper. A Conversation can be a structured discussion or experimental session format that advances dialogue around emergent forms of design research. The aim of the Conversation format is to engage a limited number of attendees in open exchange in arriving at new understandings about a topic. Each Conversation is facilitated by convenors who will produce a concluding document from their Conversation discussion. Dissemination results will be featured on the DRS2018 site following the conference. Further information and Conversations Template is available on the website:
    Any enquiries about Conversations should be directed to:


    Call for PhD by Design

    Submission Deadline: 15th February 2017

    PhD By Design will hold a one-day event at DRS2018 to vocalise, discuss and work through some of the many issues of conducting a practice-based PhD in Design. This event will be made up of informal presentations of work as an opportunity to explore what the future holds for practice-based PhDs. It will bring together designers undertaking practice-based doctoral research, as well as supervisors, MRes students, and MPhil students within and out with Design Departments. On the day we will produce an Instant Journal documenting discussions and outcomes and available during the conference. Further information on PhD by Design Limerick is available on the website. Information about past events is available at: Any enquiries about PhD by Design should be directed to:


    Contact Us

    Any enquiries about the conference should be directed to: Conference website: For regular updates follow us on Twitter: and Facebook:

     January 17, 2018