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
DRS Administrator posted an articleCall to Host Learn X Design 2021, the DRS Pedagogy SIG Conference see more
Call to Host Learn X Design 2021
The Design Research Society Pedagogy Special Interest Group (PedSIG) invites proposals to host the next PedSIG biennial conference Learn X Design 2021. For an application pack and guidance on making a proposal, please email the PedSIG Convenor Derek Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org).
+++UPDATED+++ The updated deadline for proposals is 12:00 noon BST on 14 November 2019.
The PedSIG Convening Group will review proposals and schedule interviews (if required) by late November. A final decision will be announced in early December.
Above: Photo at the closing of Learn X Design 2019
PedSIG is the largest SIG in the DRS and includes members from institutions around the world. The SIG has held biannual conferences since 2011. The 2019 conference took place in Ankara and welcomed over 150 delegates from 81 institutions and 31 countries. Read more about the DRS Pedagogy SIG here. Further information on past conferences is available in the application pack.
Contact Derek Jones (email@example.com) with any further questions.
The Design Research Society biennial conference DRS2020 will take place 11-14 August 2020 see more
Announcing DRS2020 in Brisbane, Australia
The Design Research Society biennial conference DRS2020 will take place 11-14 August 2020. The conference will be hosted by Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. As with previous DRS conferences, DRS2020 will be a major global forum to present and discuss design research.
The conference theme is Synergy, a powerful force where voices in design research become stronger together. We invite research papers and conversation and workshop proposals related to this theme. DRS2020 will also host a PhD Day, a forum for PhD students to discuss their work and get feedback from senior researchers.
Peter Lloyd, Acting Chair of the DRS Interim Advisory Council, said "DRS2020 promises to be another high-quality design research event for the community and I’m very much looking forward to it. The conference will also be important for the Society as we hope to bring in a new governance structure for the DRS to allow us to develop into a more international organisation and better meet the needs of our members."
DRS2020 Conference Chair Ming Cheung spoke about the host city, conference theme and conference goals: "With some of the world’s most talented researchers and practitioners from around the globe and across disciplines expected to meet in Brisbane and address synergy in design research, DRS2020 will see the city and Griffith University take the lead in promoting research excellence. The conference delegates will appreciate the city’s commitment to innovation and a strong knowledge economy on the one hand and experience its welcoming nature and leisure appeal on the other.”
See below for more information about the conference theme and calls for participation.
DRS2020 Conference Theme
DRS2020 explores Synergy – the coming together of people and disciplines in design research to create positive impact. While we champion the uniqueness of disciplinary knowledge and creativity, we are also optimistic about how the coming together of different mindsets, backgrounds and perspectives can realise transformative visions of the future. Synergy in design research provides exciting possibilities for answering multi-faceted problems, supporting stakeholder initiatives and participation, and transforming existing situations into desirable ones.
As the influence of design research grows in academia and society globally, we question what new opportunities there are for us to work together, within and beyond our field. How do disciplines work together in design research? What new methods and tools of design do we need to realise synergistic working? But also, when might Synergy not be desirable? How do we balance the tension between design research specialisms and the new experience design, interdisciplinary design and transdisciplinary design research spaces we find ourselves working in?
While design research is always future focused, 2020 is also a time for us to reflect on what social, cultural, economic, environmental, technological and policy impact the Synergy within and beyond disciplines has had on our evolving field. DRS2020 invites contributions including, but not limited to, the following sub-themes:
Design researchers increasingly collaborate and co-create with other fields such as healthcare, engineering, political science, social sciences and with a wide variety of societal stakeholders and issues such as wellbeing, as well as addressing developments such as networked, embedded and intelligent technologies. How does design research engage with other fields and support new interdisciplinary ways of working?
Topics of interest include roles, expertise and multiple voices, inclusion, experience, participation and power distribution, the role of communities and public and private organisations, innovation and management, and the building of partnerships in and for design research.
How is design research situated in cross-disciplinary collaboration, navigating cultures, diversity, ethics, sense of place and sense of materials, and the habits of different design communities? Under which conditions does design research flourish and is it able to help create positive impact? What are the dynamics between design research, governments and industry contexts?
Topics include the value, significance and dimensions of design research and design efforts and how to increase, assess and measure them, responsibility among stakeholders including users, types of impact such as sustainability or economic impact, and scale and locus of impact such as human-object interactions.
How does design education change and need to change? How do working designers and design researchers update their skills to meet the challenges of the present and future?
Calls for Participation
There are lots of ways to participate in DRS2020. See below for details on submission types and deadlines.
Call for Papers
Submission deadline: 9 December 2019
Full original papers (up to 5000 words) are sought that respond to the DRS2020 conference theme of Synergy and its sub-themes, or present emerging design research.
Call for Conversation Proposals
Submission deadline: 17 February 2020
Conversations engage a limited number of attendees in open exchange in arriving at new understandings about a particular topic. Conversations provide an environment where a constructive dialogue can take place about issues of importance in design research, particularly to promote exchanges about topics not easily captured by the scholarly papers.
Call for Workshop Proposals
Submission deadline: 17 February 2020
Workshops are half or full day interactive sessions aiming to convey research results hands-on and to bring together design researchers and practitioners in academia, in the public sector, and in business and industry.
Call for PhD Day
Submission deadline: 17 February 2020
DRS2020 will comprise a participatory event offering PhD students a forum to present, share and discuss with each other and with senior academics the issues they encounter in doing a PhD in design research.
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
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
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.
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.
(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?).
Travel and sightseeing trips for DRS2018 delegates see more
DRS2018 Travel Tips
DRS2018 provides lots of travel and sightseeing tips for delegates at http://www.drs2018limerick.org/venue/conference-venue, including directions to Limerick from major airports and a list of favourite local pubs! In preparation for your trip, conference organisers recommend booking a room near the University of Limerick (pictured here). Staying near campus will be more convenient, as there is 5km between the UL campus and the city centre. That said, there will still be plenty of opportunities to explore the city. DRS2018 plans to set-up a bike sharing system to travel downtown - in addition to the taxis and busses already available. The gala reception and dinner will also take place in the city centre, at King John’s Castle and The Strand Hotel.
Activities, resources and sites celebrating local design and design research see more
Celebrating Irish Design at DRS2018
Taking place in Limerick, Ireland, DRS2018 will celebrate local design and design research. It was the Irish Year of Design in 2015 and DRS2018 builds on this momentum. On Tuesday, June 26th, the conference is hosting a Bread & Butter Session in conjunction with the Institute of Designers in Ireland (IDI). Bread & Butter is an IDI presentation series where delegates can learn about Irish design practice.
Beyond formal activities, conference goers can also explore Irish art and design in Limerick at the Hunt Museum, Limerick City Gallery of Art, Fab Lab Limerick and the EVA International festival, taking place at the same time as DRS2018. Conference organisers also encourage delegates to check out the Iterations journal, a local design research publication.
LearnXdesign Call for Papers now OPEN! see more
Call for Papers: LearnXdesign 2019
The call for papers for the LearnXdesign 2019 conference in now open and the submission deadline has been extended to 30 December 2018. The call follows confirmation of the final 18 tracks themes, covering an incredibly diverse range of topics in design education and pedagogy. These range from 'Intercultural collaboration' right through to 'More than human prototyping', highlighting the range and diversity of contemporary design education research.
You can find details of each track theme and instructions for submission here.
This will be the 5th International LearnXdesign conference and will be hosted by Middle East Technical University (METU). The year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first course on industrial design offered in Turkey at METU Faculty of Architecture by the American industrial designer David K. Munro. 2019 also is the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Industrial Design as a separate undergraduate programme at METU.
Past events have established LearnXdesign as one of the key conferences in design education research. It hosts a particular intersection of educators, practitioners, and researchers across all levels of education and practice, and it’s unique character emerges from this passionately engaged community.
The Conference theme for LearnXdesign 2019 is Insider Knowledge and major track themes are Learning Spaces; Learning Cultures; and Emerging Skill Sets and Mindsets. This firmly places the discussion within the discipline of design pedagogy itself reflecting the continued emerging confidence of design education researchers across the globe.
Informed discussion around the purposes, modes, and motivations of design education have (arguably) never been more important. There is an emerging confidence in design pedagogy research - not simply as a different subject of study, but as a form of study in itself: one that has particular ways of knowing. Recent works are tackling the ‘messy space’ between the subjective and objective, demonstrating that it is possible to make progress in such areas and establish a growing knowledge base.
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/
Activities for delegates during Learn X Design 2019 see more
All Work and No Play at Learn X Design 2019?
Learn X Design 2019 kicks off on July 9th at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara. METU has lots of celebrate—it’s the 50th anniversary of their first ID course and the 40th anniversary of their separate ID program. In honour of Learn X Design and these milestones, conference chairs Naz A.G.Z. Börekçi, Fatma Korkut and Dalsu Özgen Koçyıldırım have planned some fun activities for participants.
There's a welcome reception on July 9th in the METU Faculty of Architecture garden. This will be followed by the PhD Pit-Stop party at Hayal Kahvesi in downtown Ankara (pictured above). The following day, there's an optional traditional Turkish dinner at the Kınacızade Restaurant and a Turkish bath experience at the Şengül hammam. The conference dinner will be on July 11th at Wyndham Ankara, and delegates will have the chance to try out their belly dancing skills!
More information about Learn X Design social events is available here.