IAC Member Kees Dorst on the rich and diverse field of design research. see more
To share research interests, put faces to names within the DRS governance and highlight contents of the Digital Library, the Design Research Society has launched a series called ‘DRSelects’. As part of this series, a DRS International Advisory Council or Executive Board member will share a selection of pieces from the Digital Library that relate to any subject of their choosing. Through their exploration, they will share a few words about the works they’ve chosen and how it relates to their research and broader DRS initiatives. In this edition, we have reflections from International Advisory Council Member Kees Dorst.
Please introduce yourself, your role in the DRS and your research.
I studied Industrial Design Engineering at Delft University of Technology, and Philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Currently, I am Professor of Transdisciplinary Innovation at the University of Technology Sydney’s TD School. I guess my contribution to design research lies in connecting a philosophical understanding of the logic of design with hands-on practice. As a bridge-builder between these two worlds, my writings on design as a way of thinking are read by both practitioners and academics. I have written several books in the field –including ‘Understanding Design’ (2003, 2006), ‘Design Expertise’ (with Bryan Lawson, 2009, 2013), 'Frame Innovation - create new thinking by design' (2015) ‘Designing for the Common Good’ (2016) and ‘Notes on Design – How Creative Practice Works’ (2017). Over the years, my focus has developed to exploring the use of designerly ways of thinking outside the traditional design domains – in particular as applied to the hyper-complex problems of the networked society. I am a member of the International Advisory Board of the Design Research Society.
Could you choose five papers from the DRS Digital Library to highlight? What do you find valuable in the DRS Digital Library?
What I find particularly valuable in the DRS library is the ability to search and trace discussions. When I started out in design research (way back in the early nineties) the field was reasonably small, and there was a sense of a community working together in a common purpose – building a methodology for design, if you want. A single person could more or less keep abreast of developments. Since then, design research has grown to be a rich and diverse field, with many discussions going on simultaneously (much more interesting, and a much better reflection of the complex world we live in as a field of practice, education and research).
When I delve into the DRS library it is often through search terms, to see who is involved in my areas of interest and get a quick sense of where the discussion is going. For instance, just typing in ‘co-evolution’ gives me 469 results – some papers that are centrally involved with the body of research around this notion, but also many that USE the notion in various ways. These applications & interpretations give a unique insight into where we are going as a community. This is exactly the kind of ‘meta-food for thought’ that I need as a springboard/ inspiration for taking the discussion forward in a next publication.
For this reason, I wouldn’t quite know which 5 particular papers I would select: I am more focused on the ‘space in between’ the papers, the differences in interpretation and use that point towards the discussions we should have. After all, that is how a field moves forward…
Could you talk about the initiatives you’re involved with in the DRS and any upcoming events you’d like to share?
Part of my role at DRS lies in supporting and developing the infrastructure for the field. As the professional field of design has become bigger and more complex, there is also a need to branch out to other academic areas. Design research has always borrowed a lot from the ‘classics’ of other fields (e.g. cognitive science, management, etc), but it is important to really engage with these fields as they are now. For example, we are setting up a joint special issue of journals in design research and business venturing… to be announced soon, watch this space.
I am also looking to diversify the forms we use in our collaborations and discussions – very much looking forward to June 2024, when we first have the Design Thinking Research Symposium 14, in a focused workshop format being hosted by Malardalens Universitet in Sweden (11-13 June), and then later that month the large DRS conference in Boston.
What do you see as the benefits of being involved with the DRS and how can those interested become more involved in the Society?
A key function of DRS lies in welcoming new people into our community and intellectual space. Currently, getting into design research can be a bewildering and confusing experience. This is not good for the field, as it slows down progress. We do need to make sure new (and/or young) researchers get up to speed as quickly as possible. Not just for their sake, but for the whole field.
IKEA sell these ‘starter kits’ for students that are just leaving home (with basic plates & cutlery and cooking utensils)… Perhaps we need ‘starter kits’ for design research, too. What would be in there?
DRSelects: Juan Montalvan Lume on Decolonial, systemic, and critical studies in design and design researchDRS IAC member Juan Montalvan Lume on decoloniality and design research. see more
To share research interests, put faces to names within the DRS governance and highlight contents of the Digital Library, the Design Research Society has launched a series called ‘DRSelects’. As part of this series, a DRS International Advisory Council or Executive Board member will share a selection of pieces from the Digital Library that relate to any subject of their choosing. Through their exploration, they will share a few words about the works they’ve chosen and how it relates to their research and broader DRS initiatives. In this edition, we have reflections from International Advisory Council Member Juan Montalvan Lume.
Decolonial, systemic, and critical studies in design and design research in times of socio-natural and pluriversal thought
I wanted to approach this edition of the DRSelects by relating it with my current questionings and thinking towards the future, in a way/attempt of sharing with the community how the Digital Library functions for me as a means of engaging with the contemporary discussions in our field, from which to enrich my own work.
I think most of us are pretty aware that the years to come are going to be generously challenging ones, a big part of it due to intertwining geopolitical and socio-natural tensions, in what some call the era of the ‘Anthropocene’, or, as Donna Haraway frames it, the ‘Chthulucene’ (2016). Amidst this scenario, it feels fitting, even fair, to ask oneself: ‘Are we going to make it?’, ‘Is change actually possible?’.
I believe one –of multiple– ways forward in design research in relation to the above implies a transformative process expanding our understanding of what our community within the DRS is, involving a critical revisitation of what ‘global’ and ‘the globe’ means and implies in contemporary times –a collaborative endeavour required to open up to a diversity of practices, knowledges and visions of what design(s) is/are in different territories, enriching us all and the quality of our work in the process. We are not there yet, but I am positive this is possible considering that the inherent complexity embedded in the challenges of the future we are already facing today requires us to embrace –or at least come to terms with– complexity in our own thought and practice.
It is due to these questions that I embarked on a dialogue of sorts with the DL, looking for spaces-in-between diverse critical work, in an act of relating or weaving reflections over design theory, decolonialization, systemic design, nature-societies and ancestral thought. My first piece is a recent article by Philip Cash (2020), available on the DL through the link to the journal Design Studies. It brings up the question of the state of theory development in design research through a review of articles in the same journal, from 2004 to 2018, evidencing a consistently low level of engagement in theory building and testing, among other 5 revealing insights. Now, it is helpful to think about these findings in the landscape of not just Design Studies, but the scope of the Digital Library –and a revisited global context– from which the reflection over theory in design, could become the reflection over theories of designs. An article by Kambunga, Smith, Winschiers-Theophilus & Otto (2023) helps on this matter by opening up the landscape, addressing pluriversal and decolonial theories in design, and the valuable task of exploring the means through which to bring them into practice. Hence the concept of ‘safe spaces’ is proposed as a way to enact dialogical engagements and collective creations of knowledge, in Namibia.
Continuing with this critical reflection, one could argue that expansion and complexity do not necessarily imply positive outcomes if the question of how to approach them is not asked. This next article by Edeholt & Joseph (2022) reflects upon the fate of the design disciplines in a context of constant expansion of design as a response to pressing systemic challenges in the age of climate change. Through a dynamic and critical engagement with perspectives expressed in the book ‘Design in Crisis: New Worlds, Philosophies and Practices’ by Tony Fry and Adam Nocek (2021), the article reflects upon the coexistence of an ‘ecology of disciplines’, ultimately urging all disciplines –whether in design or not– to rethink 'how' they contribute to 'what' in order to collectively succeed as a species amidst this global challenge. In relation to which, research done by Serpa et al. (2022), and their critical pedagogy drawing from the Latin American tradition of critical thinking in Education, Arts, and Sociology, offers concrete examples of how the emerging discipline of systems design can take the form of network and community creation, reframing the ‘how’ of co-design, and enabling a possible new ‘what’ in the form of a transdisciplinary community in which designers become members/enablers/weavers, fostering agency and freedom, and at the same time contributing to the theories of designs towards new possible ontologies or ‘beings’.
Finally, my last pick is dedicated to acknowledging the fact that the DL not only showcases articles in English, but also it is possible to search for articles in Spanish and Portuguese thanks to the remarkable work of members of the Pluriversal Design SIG who organize the PIVOT Conference, which promote inter-cultural and pluralistic conversations over design. Within the last edition of the conference, this article by Lucía Garcés (2021), which title could be translated as ‘Ancestral Laboratory: Participatory design and Kichwa knowledge in Ecuador’s Amazon’ does a remarkable work in intertwining pluricultural knowledge production in design, guided by Andean philosophy and the work of Ecuadorian anthropologist Patricio Guerrero Arias, enriching its theory and practice.
If anyone curious about similar work but challenged by language, the journal Diseña offers a bridge over this matter by publishing in both Spanish and English, opening the discussion and contributing to the accessibility of knowledge being produced in Latin America to researchers in other geographies, while at the same time remaining accessible locally to many people in the region.
Hopefully in the near future, articles in this journal could be accessed through the Digital Library as well. Certainly, the DL is one of those much-needed spaces where design researchers and practitioners can engage with the current discussion on not just these, but several of the most relevant matters in contemporary debate, traversing and engaging multiple geographies and traditions performing research in designs –understood in a broader pluricultural sense. Hence its potential to be a space where nuances in approaches, voices and narratives can be sensed and reflected upon.
Juan Montalvan Lume is professor of Critical Latin American Design Studies and Design Theory and Methodology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and the former director of the Industrial Design Program at this university. His work cuts across transdisciplinary research and practice linking socio-natural systems and systemic design, science and technology studies, philosophy of knowledge, decolonization, design studies, space design and bioastronautics. Within the DRS International Advisory Council Juan is currently working at the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group on a project called ‘Global Forums’ consisting on a series of events to be held in multiple geographies and languages aimed towards engaging with the DRS community to tackle a profound question linked to the very constitution of the DRS’ evolving identity: “What it means –and what it implies– to actually become a ‘global’ design research community?” Juan trusts this initiative could potentially expand and enrich our practices, knowledge and narratives over what design –and design research– is, collectively nurturing us all and the quality of our work in the process.
Haraway, D. (2016) Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University Press.
Cash, P. (2020) Where next for design research? Understanding research impact and theory building. Design Studies, 68(2020), 113-141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.destud.2020.03.001
Kambunga, A., Smith, R., Winschiers-Theophilus, H., & Otto, t. (2023) Decolonial design practices: Creating safe spaces for plural voices on contested pasts, presents, and futures. Design Studies, 86(2023), 1-28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.destud.2023.101170
Edeholt, H., and Joseph, J. (2022) Design disciplines in the age of climate change: Systemic views on current and potential roles, in Lockton, D., Lenzi, S., Hekkert, P., Oak, A., Sádaba, J., Lloyd, P. (eds.), DRS2022: Bilbao, 25 June - 3 July, Bilbao, Spain. https://doi.org/10.21606/drs.2022.365
Fry, T., and Nocek, A. (2021) Design in Crisis: New Worlds, Philosophies and Practices. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge.
Serpa, B.O., van Amstel, F.M., Mazzarotto, M., Carvalho, R.A., Gonzatto, R.F., Batista e Silva, S., and da Silva Menezes, Y. (2022) Weaving design as a practice of freedom: Critical pedagogy in an insurgent network, in Lockton, D., Lenzi, S., Hekkert, P., Oak, A., Sádaba, J., Lloyd, P. (eds.), DRS2022: Bilbao, 25 June - 3 July, Bilbao, Spain. https://doi.org/10.21606/drs.2022.707
Garcés, L.(2021) Laboratorio Ancestral: Diseño participativo y sabidurías Kichwas en la Amazonia de Ecuador, in Leitão, R.M., Men, I., Noel, L-A., Lima, J., Meninato, T. (eds.), Pivot 2021: Dismantling/Reassembling, 22-23 July, Toronto, Canada. https://doi.org/10.21606/pluriversal.2021.0045
Alejandra Poblete Pérez reflects on early DRS conference proceedings in the Digital Library. see more
To share research interests, put faces to names within the DRS governance and highlight contents of the Digital Library, the Design Research Society is launching a new series called ‘DRSelects’. As part of this series, a DRS International Advisory Council or Executive Board member will share a selection of pieces from the Digital Library that relate to any subject of their choosing. Through their exploration, they will share a few words about the works they’ve chosen and how it relates to their research and broader DRS initiatives. In this edition, we have reflections from International Advisory Council Member Alejandra Poblete Pérez.
Introducing myself and my “arriving” to the DRS
I am a graphic designer, with almost forty years of professional practice and undergraduate design teaching, as well as a researcher for twenty years, starting within the PhD Programme at the University of Barcelona.
This research path drove me to the DRS in the first decade of this century, when I realised that the DRS is the oldest multidisciplinary academic society of design research (since 1966), promoting design theories, methods and practices and, understanding research and its relationship to education and practice.
In these six decades, the DRS has embraced the theoretical concerns of the discipline, providing a space for the dissemination of research work, methodological proposals and reflections, case studies, etc. That’s why the research results from DRS Conference proceedings are the subject of my own studies, as the conferences bring together the theoretical effort of design.
My connections with the DRS Digital Library
In a way, what I am about to relate could be considered a prequel to the DRS Digital Library.
In 2015 I applied for a DRS research grant offered as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the DRS. Three researchers received the grant that year, with the commitment to present our research results at the special anniversary session in DRS2016 Brighton Conference:
Søren Rosenbak, from Umeå Institute of Design, Sweden, presented his work “Fifty Years of Failures”, reflecting on design as a process of learning from failure.
Darren Umney, from The Open University, UK, presented his study of the networks of design research in a reconstructed review of themes and actors in the DRS papers.
My presentation was "DRS Conferences: a barometer and a mirror of theoretical reflection of design discipline - a review and a discussion", examining the theoretical development of design research, through the papers published over 50 years.
That was completely in line with Darren’s work, giving us the opportunity to dialogue and collaborate with each other, so I shared with him all the material I had been digitising from the early pre-DRS conferences (1962, 1965, 1967), the printed proceedings of the DRS (1971, 1976, 1980) and partial (or pre-print) material collected from various sources (1973, 1978 and 1984).
That was the beginning of the Digital Library, driven by Darren Umney, backed at that time by Peter Lloyd, and continued by DRS in a systematic way, committed to open knowledge.
My selected readings
I recommend the reading, and “re-reading”, of those early DRS proceedings, where key methodological concepts emerged, reflecting the concerns of society at that time, anticipating problems or phenomena that we still experience today, as a society and as designers.
Examples of that are concepts such as "participatory design" (DRS 1971), dealing with user participation in decision-making, also addressing disability, and therefore, inclusion.
The 1973 DRS conference, “Design Activity”, gathered research papers from fifteen countries, addressing topics within design activity, such as the nature of design decision-making, the process and the objectives of design, "the who, the why, the how", in Tom Maver's words.
The DRS 1976 conference, "Changing Design”, addressed the changing role of design in society, taking into account the changes that society was experiencing at the time. Thus, this notion of change opened up new thinking on issues such as design education, technology assessment, and the human context of designing.
DRS1980 "Design: Science: Method" proposed a deeper epistemological reflection, perhaps as a kind of reaction, or rejection, of previous methodological approaches, where this new emphasis lies on design research and “designerly inquiry”, in Archer’s words.
It is also essential to mention the 1978 Conference –led by Professor Nigan Bayazit (RIP) and Mine Inceoglu– which for the first time was held outside of Europe (in Istanbul), opening a space for another kind of reflection.
Although in the Digital Library, only the index of topics and titles of research articles of DRS 1978 is available, it is inspiring to see the topics addressed, such as “Human consequences of design”, “Psychological determinants in the design process”, or the very recent concept at that time, “Design Thinking and methods”.
Finally, my synthetic view is that the open access that the Digital Library is offering to researchers, teachers, and students –belonging or not to design discipline– constitutes an opportunity to have enough perspective –and context– in understanding the development of design research.
Bayazit, N., and Inceoglu, M. (eds.) (1978) Proceedings of the Design Research Society International Conference, 1978: Architectural Design, Istanbul, Design Research Society. https://dl.designresearchsociety.org/conference-volumes/5
Cross, N. (eds.) (1972) Proceedings of the Design Research Society International Conference, 1971: Design Participation, London, Design Research Society. https://dl.designresearchsociety.org/conference-volumes/1
Design Research Society. (eds.) (1973) The Design Activity International Conference, 1973, London, Design Research Society. https://dl.designresearchsociety.org/conference-volumes/2
Evans, B., Powell, J., and Talbot, R. (eds.) (1982) Proceedings of the Design Research Society International Conference, 1976: Changing Design, Chichester, John Wiley. https://dl.designresearchsociety.org/conference-volumes/3
Jacques, R., and Powell, J. (eds.) (1981) Proceedings of the Design Research Society International Conference, 1980: Design: Science: Method, Guildford, IPC Business Press Limited. https://dl.designresearchsociety.org/conference-volumes/4
DRSelects: Catalina Cortés on Design for Behaviour Change, for Wellbeing and Critical Design LiteracyDRSelects: Catalina Cortés on Design for Behaviour Change, for Wellbeing and Critical Literacy. see more
To share research interests, put faces to names within the DRS governance and highlight contents of the Digital Library, the Design Research Society is launching a new series called ‘DRSelects’. As part of this series, a DRS International Advisory Council or Executive Board member will share a selection of pieces from the Digital Library that relate to any subject of their choosing. Through their exploration, they will share a few words about the works they’ve chosen and how it relates to their research and broader DRS initiatives. In this edition, we have reflections from International Advisory Council Member Catalina Cortés.
Please introduce yourself, your role in the DRS and your research.
I am Catalina Cortés, and I work as a researcher at the Design School of Universidad del Desarrollo in Chile. Catalina is a professor at the Design School of Universidad del Desarrollo in Chile and has taught design for 20 years. She has been awarded national and international funds focused on: strengthening the knowledge about design literacies for the general public, studying emergent spatial design thinking processes by ECE teachers, Design Thinking as an approach to solving problems of practice by Chilean school educators, and thedevelopment of tangible interfaces to learn abstract mathematical concepts.
Could you talk about the initiatives you’re involved with in the DRS and any upcoming events you’d like to share?
In the DRS, I currently participate in two SIGs, the Education Sig and the Global Health Sig. I am co-editing a book on Design for health in Latin America with the Global Health group that will be released soon. As a part of the IAC, I am participating in the group of the organisation of the DRS2024 Conference in Boston and the Diversity and Inclusion Group.
What are the benefits of being involved with the DRS and how can those interested become more involved in the Society?
Being involved in the DRS has been a motivating experience! I have met many exciting colleagues worldwide and research approaches and interests. I recommend that people interested in participating in the DRS join the SIGs of their interest and become involved in emerging activities. That is a concrete way to explore new areas of inquiry and meet future collaborators.
Tell us about the papers you've chosen for your DRSelects.
I approached my DRSelects as a way to understand my current research interests and how they relate to each other. I selected two editorials of tracks in the DRS2022; Design for Behaviour Change: Taking the Long View Fast by Niedderer et al. (2022) and Design for Wellbeing, Happiness and Health by Petermans et al. (2022). My third selection is the editorial of the track Empowering critical design literacy by Lutnæs et al. (2021) from Learnx Design 2021 conference.
Design for Behavior Change is not new to design research but has connected in exciting ways to intentional design towards the wellbeing and health of people and the planet. Suppose behaviour change studies are focused on health and happiness. In that case, its methods can be used to improve the quality of life of people, which moves towards the common good and away from its criticised use to persuade consumer decisions. These three pieces present a fascinating view of these topics and diverse examples of the research revolving around them.
At this point, I find it relevant to pay attention to the Critical Design Literacy editorial as it promotes the shift towards educating future generations about sustainable design and responsible consumption. Design Literacy is concerned with the creation and understanding of design, which today is fundamental to facing the future responsibly and educating makers and consumers to be critical thinkers.
The last two pieces I chose exemplify applying these intertwined topics in design research. Özkan & Wever(2019) present a case study about introducing repair as part of the product design process in design education. Huerta et al. (2022) explore using ecodesign to train professionals in the packaging industry in Chile to think critically about their production decisions.
In sum, the three editorials offer a variety of papers that revolve around these related relevant topics, which I recommend as an inspiration to guide future research towards responsible design ethically, environmentally and with a focus on people and the planet.
Design for Behaviour Change: Taking the Long View Fast
Niedderer, K., Ludden, G., Desai, S., and Hermsen, S. (2022) Design for Behaviour Change: Taking the Long View Fast, in Lockton, D., Lenzi, S., Hekkert, P., Oak, A., Sádaba, J., Lloyd, P. (eds.), DRS2022: Bilbao, 25 June - 3 July, Bilbao, Spain. https://doi.org/10.21606/drs.2022.1075
Design for Wellbeing, Happiness and Health
Petermans, A., Poldma, T., Cain, R., Ozkaramanli-Leerkes, D., Tonetto, L., Pohlmeyer, A., Hassenzahl, M., Laschke, M., and Desmet, P. (2022) Design for Wellbeing, Happiness and Health, in Lockton, D., Lenzi, S., Hekkert, P., Oak, A., Sádaba, J., Lloyd, P. (eds.), DRS2022: Bilbao, 25 June - 3 July, Bilbao, Spain. https://doi.org/10.21606/drs.2022.1062
Track 02: Empowering critical design literacy
Lutnæs, E.(2021) Track 02: Empowering critical design literacy, in Bohemia, E., Nielsen, L.M., Pan, L., Börekçi, N.A.G.Z., Zhang, Y. (eds.), Learn X Design 2021: Engaging with challenges in design education, 24-26 September, Shandong University of Art & Design, Jinan, China. https://doi.org/10.21606/drs_lxd2021.00.313
Integrating repair into product design education: Insights on repair, design and sustainability
Özkan, N.G., and Wever, R.(2019) Integrating repair into product design education: Insights on repair, design and sustainability, in Börekçi, N., Koçyıldırım, D., Korkut, F. and Jones, D. (eds.), Insider Knowledge, DRS Learn X Design Conference 2019, 9-12 July, Ankara, Turkey. https://doi.org/10.21606/learnxdesign.2019.16117
Integrating ecodesign in food packaging solutions for EPR compliance in Chile: Knowledge transfer from theory to practice
Huerta, O., Cortés, C., and Melo, C. (2022) Integrating ecodesign in food packaging solutions for EPR compliance in Chile: Knowledge transfer from theory to practice, in Lockton, D., Lenzi, S., Hekkert, P., Oak, A., Sádaba, J., Lloyd, P. (eds.), DRS2022: Bilbao, 25 June - 3 July, Bilbao, Spain. https://doi.org/10.21606/drs.2022.241