Reflections on DRS2020 and link to conference papers and presentations see more
Conference Report: DRS2020
DRS2020 took place last month on 11-14 August, hosted by Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. It was the first entirely online DRS conference. The transition from an in-person to online conference happened quickly. It required big adjustments by the organising team and fundamentally changed the highly anticipated biennial event.
DRS2020 had nearly 150 paper presentations and 35 conversations and workshops, including multiple events hosted by DRS Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Sessions explored a wide range of topics including design transitions, mobility, games, co-creation and health. Organisers and attendees were creative and resourceful; there were impromptu Zoom meetings between delegates and a Slack group formed within the DRS2020 community.
DRS2020 taught us the benefits and challenges of online conferences. Certainly, they’re more accessible, enable easier participation and have a lower environmental footprint. Pre-recorded virtual presentations are also easy to share and re-watch. And—the stakes are lower if you miss a great presentation or need to choose between sessions. Many presentation videos are available on DRS YouTube and you can contact Isabel to add yours (email@example.com).
However, there are important challenges to overcome. As conference attendees noted, it’s hard to be physically and mentally present at a virtual event. Traveling to a conference provides a dedicated block of time to slow down, listen and discuss. Attending a conference from home comes with other commitments like meetings, teaching and childcare. Opportunities for feedback and networking also come less naturally and easily.
Regardless of these hiccups, we’re so pleased with the great design research presented at the conference and to have the opportunity to meet despite these challenging times! There are lots of design research ideas and insights on online events to carry forward.
DRS2020 papers are available for download in the new DRS Digital Library. Be sure to check them out!
Pivot 2020 aimed to generate learning and conversations around the Pluriverse see more
Conference Report: Pivot 2020
Pivot 2020 invited participants to consider how to design a ‘world of many centers and voices.’ We asked questions like: What does a world in which many worlds fit look like? What is needed to create this reality? Who is needed to support this change? Pivot 2020 aimed to highlight diverse voices, perspectives, epistemologies, and ontologies with an emphasis on design and social innovation.
The event was initially planned as an in-person conference in New Orleans, USA. This location felt appropriate given the city’s diversity, history, and proximity to the Caribbean, Latin America and ‘other worlds.’ Then COVID-19 arrived and forced us to change our plans and adapt to an online format. We worked through the disruption and uncertainty of the pandemic and invited people to join us for a day of virtual conversations. We always wanted to host a more inclusive conference and the online format helped us achieve this goal! It allowed for greater diversity of participants: we had presenters and stories from many countries—e.g., Indonesia, India, Kenya, Brazil, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, Japan, Canada, several European countries, the Middle East, and the United States.
Above: Screen shot of participants from across the world
The event took place on 4th June 2020 on Zoom. We had a full day of presentations and discussions—8 sessions and more than 40 presenters stretched over 11 hours. Since we chose not to have parallel sessions, everyone watched the presentations together and engaged in conversations. The sessions covered themes such as ‘the Pluriverse is now,’ ‘decolonizing design education,’ ‘unlearning hegemony,’ ‘digital and emerging tech,’ ‘decentering futures,’ and more.
There was significant debate among the presenters and audience about the need to create epistemologies and methods for design theory, practice and education that can help design move away from its traditional Eurocentric approach and move toward more plural forms of participation. Conference attendees proposed new courses for a pluriversal design education, challenged each other to diversify their references, and shared suggestions for a more diverse reference list. These ideas and discussions will be made available through the Pluriversal Design Special Interest Group.
One of our biggest challenges when planning the event was to simulate a conference atmosphere. In our view, the social and interpersonal aspect at conferences is almost as important as the presentations—it enables new connections, meaningful encounters between people thinking along the same lines, and the formation of a community with shared interests. To support this social aspect, we divided Pivot 2020 participants into occasional breakout rooms to chat and meet each other. We also had a very active chat-box where some of the most meaningful connections were formed. We were positively surprised by the level of engagement in these chat-box discussions!
Many of the presenters sent us pre-recorded video presentations. These videos are available on the DRS YouTube channel and the Taylor Center’s webpage, enabling further post-conference engagement. Pivot 2020 conference proceedings will be published later this year.
Dr. Renata M. Leitão, Conference Co-chair and Pluriversal Design SIG Convenor; Instructor, OCAD University
Dr. Lesley-Ann Noel, Conference Co-chair and Pluriversal Design SIG Convenor; Associate Director for Design Thinking for Social Impact, Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation & Design Thinking, Tulane University
Conference report: LearnXdesign 2019 Conference a great success! see more
Conference Report: Learn X Design 2019
The fifth annual DRS Pedagogy SIG Learn X Design conference, Insider Knowledge, was held July 9-12 at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.
The conference hosted 150 delegates from 81 institutions in 31 countries, highlighting the continued interest in design education research around the world. In all, 87 papers and 6 workshops were presented. It was a busy conference, but one that allowed the community to reconnect, create new links and engage in discussion.
The conference started (unofficially!) with a one-day PhD Pitstop event, where 24 PhD students presented their work, interspersed by short lectures by Owain Pedgley, Peter Lloyd, Gülay Hasdoğan, and Gülsen Töre Yargin. During the 'pitstop' itself, students had the chance to visit four tables to grill the 'experts' on PhD-related issues. Quite a few good ideas for design PhD researchers came from this event (and not just from the experts…), so keep an eye on the DRS PhD Discussion board for more on this in the coming weeks. The day ended with a traditional Academic, Live-Band Karaoke with double-blind peer review singing...
The papers presented over the three days demonstrated the range and rigour of contemporary design education research. In all, there were 27 presentation sessions organized into 18 Track Themes and the topics ranged from core design education themes (such as student development, modes of learning, and studio praxis) through to emerging practices in teaching as well as between education and society.
The range of research methods was similarly broad: from large-scale statistical analyses of large data sets through to rich description and dramaturgical approaches of analysing the Studio. Questions from delegates on methods and approaches were as common as queries on results.
And, of course, the range of subjects of study expanded the anthropocentric to include, for the first time, both cats and squirrels…
The Keynote presentation on day 1 was given by Gabriela Goldschmidt, who presented her work on design cognition and its inherent spatiality through theories such as Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. Goldschmidt argued strongly for the value of such spaces to develop design expertise – not simply design-like behaviours and actions.
Day 1 ended with a visit to a traditional Ankara hammam for a Turkish bath. A comparative, auto-ethnographic, reflexive study was conducted and concluded: "What goes on in the hammam stays in the hammam"
The second keynote was presented by Zeynep Çelik Alexander, who gave an in-depth and fascinating analysis of the pedagogical roots of the Bauhaus, arguing strongly that the design curriculum that has influenced nearly all contemporary design education had prior pedagogical research roots (aesthetic feeling, drawing, designing). Yet another reason to join the DRS Pedagogy SIG - it all started with education research!
Thursday ended with the conference dinner, which, again, took a purely Turkish turn - before the first food arrived, everyone was given a hip scarf, the band started, dancers arrived, and off we went. As with the hammam, you had to be there…
The final keynote was given by Halime Demirkan on the subject of learning styles and their applications to student-tutor interaction. This work highlighted the unique position of design education research in the intersection of theory, research, practice and design itself.
The conference ended with a panel session considering the future of design education and research, comprising Emre Çaglar, Aykut Coskun, Ípek Akpinar, Yasuko Takayama, and Stanley Reucker. The panel noted several emerging themes throughout the conference, including the continuing maturity of design education research and the growing body of work produced, and referred to, by the community. A follow up article on the discussion and themes will follow.
The conference was closed by Naz AGZ Börekçi, Fatma Korkut and Dalsu Özgen Koçyildirim, the conference co-chairs, outlining the design process and organisation behind the event. The theme of the conference, Insider Knowledge, was reflected throughout the event in discussions and, in particular, through communication about design education and its value as a mode of education.
The visual identity for the conference was inspired by the intersections of cultures, peoples and ideas that represent Turkey's past and present. This identity worked really well across all the conference materials and was a reminder of the diversity and plurality of speakers and participants.
Overall, this was a fantastic conference with a lot of good work brought together by a passionate community of practitioners and researchers. The design research education community has incredible Insider Knowledge and a growing maturity of practice and research.
So, thank you to everyone who helped make Learn X Design 2019 such a great event: to Naz, Fatma, and Dalsu for guiding the design; to all the volunteers and helpers who made it work; to Middle East Technical University for supporting it; and to all the contributors, delegates, presenters, authors and speakers.
The next Learn X Design Conference will be held in 2021 (location still to be confirmed). If you are interested in hosting the next LearnXdesign conference in 2021 then get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org
Derek Jones, PedSIG Convenor
Overview of the DRS InclusiveSIG symposium at Brunel University London see more
Conference Report: DRS InclusiveSIG Symposium 2019
In June 2019, the DRS Special Interest Group 'Inclusive Design Research' (InclusiveSIG) organised a half-day symposium on inclusive design and making at Brunel University London. The event was hosted by Dr. Busayawan lam and Dr. Youngok Choi from Brunel University. It had about 30 attendees from the UK, China and Turkey.
The symposium included presentations from local and international inclusive design researchers. The image above shows the speakers and symposium hosts. InclusiveSIG Convenor Prof. Hua Dong from Loughborough University spoke about the historic evolution of inclusive design. She also introduced a new book Inclusive Design: Chinese Archive (Tongji University Press, 2019), which addresses the 6Ps of inclusive design research: principles, processes, projects, pedagogy, people and publications.
Above: Photo from the inclusive design symposium in London
From Brunel University, Dr. Eujin Pei introduced disruptive ideas on additive manufacturing for inclusive design and Dr. Vanja Garaj spoke about a newly funded project on inclusive design of immersive reality. Dr. Christopher McGinley from the Royal College of Art presented recent case studies in the field. Finally, Dr. Abdusselam Selami Cifter from Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University gave a superb talk on a web-based platform that promotes accessibility in design.
As a whole, the symposium highlighted current thinking on inclusive design research and practice in China, Turkey and the UK. Applications of new technology and community collaboration emerged as important topics. To follow-up, the DRS InclusiveSIG is planning another symposium at Loughborough University in October.
Hua Dong, InclusiveSIG Convenor
Conference theme: ‘knowing together – experiential knowledge and collaboration’ see more
Conference Report: EKSIG 2019
EKSIG 2019 was the international conference of the DRS Special Interest Group on Experiential Knowledge (EKSIG). The event took place 23–24 September 2019 at the Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn, Estonia. With the theme ‘knowing together – experiential knowledge and collaboration,’ the conference explored collaborative knowledge generation by professionals and academic researchers in the creative disciplines and beyond.
The aim of the conference was to understand how individual experiential knowledge/knowledge gained by practice is shared; how collective experiential knowledge is accumulated/communicated in/through collaboration; and how experiential knowledge is embodied in outputs and can be traced back to practice. The conference also highlighted making as 'action of change': matter is transformed by a collaborative team and their material/non-material environments.
Top left: Keynote presenter Prof. Juhani Pallasmaa delivering his talk ‘Embodied and Empathic Knowledge – intuiting experience and life in architecture’ | Above centre: Participants interacting with an interactive play mat at a conference exhibition. Photos: Kristiine Špongolts.
The conference received great international response with submissions from researchers across four continents. Papers were interdisciplinary and came from fields including architecture, behavioural science, ceramics, culinary art, design engineering, digital craft, education, fashion and HCI.
Accepted submissions were organised around five strands:
- Handmade and digital crafts in collaboration
- Making as action of change
- Collaboration toward sustainability
- Multi-stakeholder collaboration
- Collaboration and knowledge transfer
Above centre: Audience at presentations on handmade and digital crafts in collaboration. Photo: Kristiine Špongolts.
In addition to paper presentations, the conference had keynotes by Prof. Juhani Pallasmaa and Prof. Ron Wakkary, a workshop, and an exhibition featuring artefacts created in dialogue with papers presented at the conference.
Discussions among the conference delegates were very stimulating. The small scale of the conference (40 participants) created an informal and friendly environment that invited delegates to fully engage themselves in discussions. One of the most interesting conversations was about the generation/transfer of experiential knowledge in collaborative practices that extend collaboration to non-humans (i.e. materials, machines, matter and environment).
The post-conference publication will be a special issue of CoDesign to be published in 2020.
Nithikul Nimkulrat, Conference Chair and EKSIG Convenor; Associate Professor, OCAD University, Canada
The Tricky Design Symposium took place 7-8 June 2019 at the London Design Museum see more
Event Report: Tricky Design Symposium
The Tricky Design Symposium: Design Ethics for a Complex World took place 7-8 June 2019 at the London Design Museum. It accompanied the launch of the essay collection Tricky Design: The Ethics of Things, co-edited by Tom Fisher and Lorraine Gamman and published by Bloomsbury (2019). The book includes chapters on guns, designs for the military, assisted suicide, passports, policing and policy to interrogate what constitutes trickery in design. Its overall research question asks “can tricky design reasoning help solve global design challenges?"
The event helped widen discussion of the book’s themes, engaging an audience of approximately 150 practitioners, researchers and PhD students. There was a lively debate, which showed a distinct appetite for discussion on design ethics. These discussions positioned ethics as a much-needed contribution to understanding design beyond market-led accounts. They also showed variety in the topic of design ethics, as well as applications to design practice and PhD student work.
The symposium was supported by the Social Design Institute and Design Against Crime Research Centre of the University of the Arts London, the Design Museum and DRS OPENSig. Day one was divided into four panel discussions that addressed the following questions:
- How can we design with others in an ethical way?
- How does ethics shape the things we design?
- How should design practice intervene in the public sphere?
- Can new ecologies provide a more equitable path for design?
Videos of these panel presentations are available here.
As well as the strong sense that design is already ethically implicated, highlights from Day 1 included reports on participative projects and critical accounts of the ethical implications of particular designs. The moral passion of contributors was especially inspiring and produced insightful questions, strong audience participation and lively debate.
Day two started with a presentation by Professor Lucy Kimbell on the newly emerging UAL Social Design Institute. Her paper inspired a strong audience discussion about the need for social sustainability and new social design narratives.
Professor Lorraine Gamman led the second event of day: a workshop and discussion on ethical vignettes presented by invited design academics. Participants choose a dilemma to interrogate and conducted a ten minute round-table discussion, before a bell rang and each group moved to the next table. The vignettes proved a successful participatory design technique for stimulating ethical discussion.
The final event of the afternoon consisted of six short presentations on ethical dilemmas encountered by design researchers in their practice and research. This included discussions about sound in hospitals and challenges to modernism, anthropology and material sustainability. Each presentation was followed by audience questions and debate, with strong suggestions from the audience about ethical challenges that should be addressed in future talks on tricky design.
For more information, the complete Tricky Design Symposium program is available here.
Tom Fisher, OPENSig Convenor and DRS Hon. Treasurer; Professor, Nottingham Trent University
Lorraine Gamman, Professor, University of the Arts London
Short Conference summary and links for DRS 2018 see more
DRS2018 Limerick - Conference summary
The 2018 Design Research Society international conference was held in Limerick, Ireland from 25 - 28 June 2018. Thanks to record-breaking weather, umbrellas intended for traditional Atlantic Irish rain were put to use as sun shades and the campus of the University of Limerick came to life, providing a beautiful backdrop to an amazing event.
This is just a quick summary of the conference with some links and resources. We’ll be posting a series of conference reports from a range of different perspectives and voices over the coming weeks (so check your notification settings to make sure you get these).
The scale of the conference demonstrated the continuing growth and development of design research at an international level, with 600+ delegates from all around the world. The domain of design research was clearly represented by the themes emerging from work submitted by DRS members.
This landscape of design knowledge culminated in 7 volumes of Conference Proceedings:
- Proceedings of DRS2018 - Volume 1
- Proceedings of DRS2018 - Volume 2
- Proceedings of DRS2018 - Volume 3 (part a)
- Proceedings of DRS2018 - Volume 3 (part b)
- Proceedings of DRS2018 - Volume 4
- Proceedings of DRS2018 - Volume 5
- Proceedings of DRS2018 - Volume 6
- Proceedings of DRS2018 - Volume 7
The conference hosted 3 main Keynote Debates around particular topics in design research as a catalyst for change. Technology did what technology does best (of course…). But people did what they are best at, too - finding their own ways to discuss, connect with, and develop ideas. Videos of each debate are available here:
- Keynote debate Day 1 - Design research and industry impacts
- Keynote debate Day 2 - Social and Public
- Keynote debate Day 3 - Whose Design?
The workshops, discussions, and paper presentations were all well attended - even over-attended in the fantastic Limerick weather. And in between events the overall feel of the conference was one engaged activity and debate. You can find some of the conference photos here:
And, the DRS Council had a stall at the conference and it was great to have direct conversations with everyone face to face and online. We gathered some really useful feedback from the postcards and consultation session around our 4 key FutureDRS questions. A huge thank you to everyone who took time to get involved and we will publish the results on this shortly.
Next up, the biennial DRS LearnXdesign 2019 Conference will be held 9 - 12 July 2019 in Ankara, Turkey.
And the 2020 DRS Conference will be held at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Further details to follow soon…
The SID is an annual event led by leading design research universities in Chile see more
Review of the Seminario de Investigación en Diseño in Chile
The SID - Seminario de Investigación en Diseño (trans. Design Research Seminar) - is an annual event led by leading design research universities in Chile. The 2018 event took place November 20th and 21st at the newly inaugurated theatre of Biobío in the city of Concepción. The seminar explored topics including healthcare, sustainability, design education, design for public services and design heritage. These diverse topics offered a rich opportunity to discuss the state of design at national and international levels. The seminar also demonstrated growing academic interest in design research and the diverse needs of the Chilean society, which can be addressed by interdisciplinary research projects.
My research team at Universidad del Desarrollo (UDD) presented the project: "Designing an intuitive interface to enhance trigonometry learning.” We worked with the School of Engineering to develop an intuitive and non-traditional pedagogical approach.
We greatly enjoyed the keynote by Dr. Helena Aguilar from the Centre of Nanotechnology and Smart Materials (CeNTI) in Portugal. She spoke about an inspiring project on smart windows, which showed how design, technology and sustainability can produce beautiful, efficient and innovative solutions to improve human lives. The seminar also provided the opportunity to learn about top design publications in Chile like DISEÑA, REVISTA CHILENA DE DISEÑO and BASE DISEÑO E INNOVACIÓN.
Design research in Chile is developing fast and moving beyond our borders. Although Chile is geographically isolated, Chilean designers and design researchers work in constant collaboration with international partners. We reach global audiences and communicate Chilean design values to the rest of the world. Our next step is to invite the international design research community to Chile and Latin America. We are quickly working toward that dream!
Catalina Cortés, Instructor and Researcher, Design School, Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile
The latest insights in design for wellbeing education, with a special focus on ethics see more
Conference Report: DRS SIGWELL Conference 2019
In April 2019, the DRS Special Interest Group 'Design for Wellbeing, Happiness and Health' (SIGWELL) organised a one-day conference on Design for Wellbeing Education at the TUDelft Teaching Lab. The conference explored the latest insights in design for wellbeing education, with a special focus on ethics. It had about 70 attendees - a nice group for our first renewed SIGWELL event! We used different presentation formats to inspire the audience. This included keynote presentations, workshops and a series of short presentations.
After opening words by SIGWELL Chair Ann Petermans, the day started with a keynote lecture by Prof. Dr. Peter-Paul Verbeek titled ‘Designing Wellbeing: Responsible Design and Value Change’. Next, Prof. Dr. Pieter Desmet and Prof. Dr. Marc Hassenzahl led a workshop on tools and methods for design for wellbeing, and Jet Gispen led a workshop on ethical reflections toward design for wellbeing. After the workshops, Dr. Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer gave an informative talk entitled ‘A flourishing University – Designing Systematically for Academic Wellbeing.’ She stressed that we need to develop a better understanding of creative methods and practices to address today’s complex societal challenges.
After lunch, we had short presentations with five contributors: Armin Nagel discussed his Happy Waiting project, Stefan Persaud talked about education for happiness, Dr. Mathieu Gielen spoke about co-design with kids, Pelin Esnaf examined empathy as a design skill, and Chiel van der Linden discussed 'the holy grail' of worldwide wellbeing. The day ended with a keynote presentation by Andrew James, assistant principal at Mount Waverley North Primary School in Melbourne, Australia. He explained how positive design and principles from positive psychology were explored and applied in his school with children aged 10-12.
Although the conference is over, we're looking forward to some great upcoming events. Many SIGWELL members have contributed to an upcoming design for wellbeing book with Routledge. And, of course, we hope to be present at DRS 2020!
Ann Petermans, SIGWELL Chair
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.
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
DRS Attends Design Declaration Summit meeting see more
DRS Attends Design Declaration Summit, April 2019
The DRS attended the second Design Declaration Summit in St. Étienne, 2-5 April 2019. International delegates from a diverse range of design related organisations were represented, including the UK Design Council, the national Danish Design Centre, the Commonwealth Association of Planners, Architecture Sans Frontières, as well as a number of Universities and design schools.
This was technically the pre-summit which arranged a series of activities in preparation for the full summit, planned for 2021. These activities centred around three workstreams:
- Establishing metrics and collecting data and case studies to more effectively communicate the value of design
- Supporting development of National and Regional Design Policies
- Fostering development, recognition, support and funding for design education and research, including development of new formats for design education curricula.
It was felt by the DRS Council that the Summit was an important event to attend - not simply because the Society was one of 18 original signatories to the original Declaration, but also to ensure that design research and design researchers in particular were represented. It turned out that this was an important opportunity to do so.
Presentations in each workstream demonstrated the breadth of global activity that relies on, or is affected by, design. At this scale, the synergies with the UN Sustainable Development Goals were noted by a number of presenters. The values in the original Declaration were referred to regularly, albeit with only a few delegates noting just how difficult it is to confront the practical reality of ethics in design.
The range of discussion within each workstream attempted to identify practical progress that could be made prior to the main summit in 2021. This is, as anyone who has hosted such an event will know, the hard part - talking and agreeing on matters is one thing but translating this to tangible action is quite another. The DRS, with a few other organisations, called for a design prototyping approach to elicit outputs and act as a catalyst to make progress. We await the outputs from the Pre-Summit and will share these with members as soon as they are available.
The Design Declaration Summit website can be found here: http://www.designdeclaration.org/
Tell the DRS community about a conference you attended or organised see more
Call for Conference Reports
The DRS Online promotes design research community activities. We post news about DRS-related activities and our pick of design research headlines from around the world. We also maintain an international Events Calendar and Jobs & Opportunities Board.
We want you to get involved! We’re looking for reports from major design research conferences and events around the world. This opportunity is open for conference attendees or organisers, writing about an event that happened within the last 2 months.
Reports should be:
- Short – Up to 400 words
- Informative – Introduce the conference, sub-field, organisers, venue, etc.
- Critical – Take a position and explain what was exciting, new, challenging, etc.
- Visual – Include several high-quality images that you have permission to use
- Easy to read – Write in a clear, relaxed academic tone
- Original – New content, developed just for the DRS Online
If you’re interested, submit a brief proposal though our online form. The DRS Communications Team will review your proposal and then reach-out with news and feedback. We offer 40 GBP for accepted conference reports.
Visit our Contact page for information about posting other news, events, conference calls, jobs or opportunities on our website.
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.
Shion Asada, University of Tokyo
LearnXDesign 2017 Conference prvided a future vision of design education see more
The fourth international DRS / CUMULUS / ED-DESIGN Conference on Design Education - LearnXdesign 2017 - was held at the end of June 2017 at Ravensbourne in London, UK.
The opening keynote by Susan Orr (@Susan_K_Orr) superbly summarised the current landscape in design education, focusing on significant aspects of core design pedagogy and noting how these are being understood in our own discipline(s) as well as how they could transfer to other subject domains. Looking into the near future, she described design as continually developing, where “students are the definers of the discipline”.
On Thursday, keynote Jo Twist (@Doctoe) demonstrated just how significant the games industry in the UK is - both economically and as a discipline and professional endeavour. She observed that “play allows you to fail” before calling for even greater integration between the Arts and traditional (but unhelpfully segregated) STEM subjects that often lead game design.
The closing Keynote was given by Dori Tunstall (@Dori_Danthro) presenting how OCAD U are continuing to decolonise their curriculum and implement Respectful Design across their studios and processes. Echoing Orr’s Keynote observation, that the widening of design curricula must be a focus of design education in the coming years, Tunstall presented a positive and optimistic interpretation of how this can be achieved inclusively and without the ‘race to the bottom’ some may think it entails.
In between these keynotes were the usual range of interesting and well-researched presentations of papers, positions and works-in-progress from across the world. Anyone who has attended a LearnXdesign event will understand that it’s usually a group of really committed and passionate practitioners, coming together to share and expand their personal and collective knowledge in design education. In summing up the conference, Ravensbourne’s Gary Pritchard and Linda Drew reflected what delegates were thinking - it was, as always, the people who made the event.
A huge thank you to all of the Ravensbourne organisers and support staff who made the event so successful.
The conference proceedings will be available in the next few weeks.
The location for the next LearnXdesign conference in 2019 has yet to be confirmed so if any DRS members are interested or have any ideas for this then just get in touch with PedSIG lead Mike Tovey (email@example.com).