Skip to Main Content

Interview

  • Anna Talley posted an article
    Interview with Gjoko Muratovski, author of "Research for Designers: A Guide to Methods and Practice" see more

    "Research for Designers: A Guide to Methods and Practice", published by SAGE, is the second edition of Gjoko Muratovski's popular book, which was first published in 2016. The new edition features a Foreword by Ken Friedman, a co-authored Preface with Don Norman, an Afterword by Steven Heller, and a reflection by David Kusuma, the President-Elect of the World Design Organization. We asked Muratovski, a DRS Fellow, a few questions to get some insight into his new book and what impact it might have on design research.

     

     

    What is your background in design research?

    Short answer: I hold a PhD in Design Research and I am a Fellow of the Design Research Society. I do typical academic research – I write and publish – but I also work on industry-sponsored research projects. 

    Long Answer: I have a multidisciplinary design background. I came to academia from industry. Over time, I realized that that practicing design, without research to inform it, can be very ineffective. This is the reason why I went on undertaking a PhD in Design Research, which I completed in 2010. In 2011, I was commissioned by SAGE Publications to write their first design research textbook. They wanted someone who can approach this topic from multiple disciplinary perspectives and help standardize the way research for designers was taught. I spent the next five years working on this book. This became the first edition of the book “Research for Designers: A Guide to Methods and Practice”

     

    Tell us a little about your new book. What has changed from the first edition?

    The premise of the first edition was primarily focused on advocating for design research. But more importantly, the book was focused on introducing research methods to design students and practitioners in a way that seems less intimidating and more approachable. Most of the design research literature at the time was aimed at senior academics and as such, it was very difficult for newcomers to the field to embrace it. I tried to demystify the topic of research. I envisioned the book as a simple guide, offering step-by-step advice to those that may be studying these things for a very first time. 

    Since then, much of the things that I was advocating for in the first edition become widely accepted. The second edition of this book includes a new outlook for the future of the field (with focus on the Fourth Industrial Revolution), some content expansion, and minor revisions in some areas. The second edition also features a suite of exclusive case studies, introduced via expert interviews that highlight how design research can be used to its full potential. Some of the topics covered include how military intelligence officers use design research to combat nuclear terrorism; how ethnographic research became a tool for decolonizing design in Africa; how Johnson & Johnson revolutionized the medical devices design research process; how a company such as Tupperware Brands started a design partnership with NASA and the International Space Station; how the world's largest consumer goods company Procter & Gamble uses AI to drive design research; how the White House uses design to drive innovation in the US Federal Government, and more.

    The fundamental research principles and methods that were featured in the first edition have not changed much. They were primarily based on the “gold standard” of research found in social sciences, and as such they didn’t require much revision. However, some of the context surrounding them needed an update so that the overall discourse stays current. 

    The book also features a Foreword by Ken Friedman, a co-authored Preface with Don Norman, an Afterword by Steven Heller, and a reflection by David Kusuma, the President-Elect of the World Design Organization.

    For me, it was important to make sure that the book also looks good. After all, the primary audience for this book are designers. So, on this occasion, I invited Michael Bierut from Pentagram to design a new cover and visual identity for the book. He did an amazing job. His incredible body of work includes visual identity solutions for clients such as The New York Times, Saks Fifth Avenue, MasterCard, Benetton, and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. 

     

    How do you think your book will impact design research? 

    The first edition of the book has been put into practice by many universities and professional organizations who tested its relevance and usability. The book has proven to be a helpful tool for both students and teachers, and it has served as a handy resource during high-level industry projects as well. So far, the book has been used either as a core textbook, supplementary, or recommended reading at over 500 universities from around the world. The book can also be found in the corporate libraries of leading companies such as Apple, Amazon, IBM, Nike, Facebook, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, and General Motors. The book has even been used at the White House and by the US military, and due to popular demand, it has also been translated into Chinese by Tongji University Press. 

    Interestingly enough, students from many non-design disciplines have also found this book useful while writing their research theses. This has been in part due to the accessibility of the writing style, the allure of the field of design as a driver of innovation, and the universal applicability of some of the research methods featured in the book. 

    While originally intended to be a resource that helps designers develop critical thinking skills by learning fundamental research principles, this book is now much more than that. More than ever before, the world needs professionals capable of understanding complex issues, while facilitating collaborative, iterative practices, and dialogues with highly diverse stakeholders. The knowledge that this book provides is now seen as essential for anyone with the aspiration of becoming a human-centric leader.

     

    What do you think the future is like for design research? Why is design research important now?

    I think that the future of design research is bright. Design research is no longer on the fringes of academia. Over the last decade we have seen a widespread use of design research – in the corporate sector, the government sector, hospitals, and even the military. And the need for highly trained design researchers will only grow further. However, the question is, are we prepared to teach design research at the scale that is now needed? With this book, I hope to enable us to scale the way we teach design research. 

    But beyond this, future challenge for designers will not be to recognize obvious problems after they occur and then to solve them, but to prevent them from occurring in the first place. A systematic evidence-based research approach can help us create better-informed design practices and may even help us envision new kinds of design careers that are yet to be introduced. 

     

    Where can people find out more about you and your work?

    Some of my work can be found on my profiles on Academia.edu and ResearchGate. But if anyone would like to learn more about me and what do I do, then it might be best for them to join me on LinkedIn. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/gjokomuratovski/

    Link to the book: https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/research-for-designers/book270503

    Link to my profile on the SAGE website: https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/author/gjoko-muratovski

     

  • Isabel Prochner posted an article
    Eleanor is Head of Research for the Enterprise Design Thinking program at IBM see more

    This Much I Know (About Design Research): Eleanor Bartosh

    This Much I Know (About Design Research) is an interview series that profiles members of the DRS. In this edition, we spoke with Eleanor Bartosh about her design research and current projects. Eleanor is Head of Research for the Enterprise Design Thinking program at IBM, which has so far trained 200,000 IBM employees and clients around the world.

     

    How did you get started at IBM?

    I began as a design researcher for an IBM Systems team. We worked on a product to help system administrators manage their server environments. I’ve held a few roles since then, and now I lead design research for the Enterprise Design Thinking product portfolio.

    What’s Enterprise Design Thinking?

    It's enhanced design thinking to meet the needs of big enterprise teams. My group works on a portfolio of products and services to help our clients adopt human-centered innovation in their own companies.

    And you provide training? 

    Yes—we train employees and clients in-person and through our online platform. Scalability is super important, since IBM operates around the world and has 380,000 employees! You can read about Enterprise Design Thinking and take training Level 1 at ibm.com/design/thinking 

    What’s the role of design thinking at IBM?

    It’s our soul. It helps us and our clients stay user-focused, innovative and competitive. IBM rebooted the design program about 7 years ago. We hired more designers and started teaching design thinking to entire teams and to our clients.

    Do you do any design research at IBM? 

    I explore how teams adopt human-centered design practices and the conditions they need to succeed. I also collaborate with services partners to understand how to better meet client needs through the Enterprise Design Thinking portfolio.

    Do you have any favourite design research resources?

    Local and world news are amazing resources, especially when I read different news sources. The news helps me understand different perspectives, including those of my colleagues and clients.

    What are your hopes for the future of design research? 

    I hope design and design research communities can become more empathetic and curious. We should also realise that we don't always need to have the answer!

    Where can people find out more about you?

    Check out my LinkedIn page https://www.linkedin.com/in/eleanorbartosh/ or follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/eleanorbartosh. My Twitter is a mix of stuff related to IBM, the design industry, food/travel and the occasional animal video.

     

    Interested in getting involved in this interview series? Tell us about your work or nominate another researcher. Contact Isabel at editor@designresearchsociety.org.

  • Isabel Prochner posted an article
    Discussing Akama's socially and culturally-engaged design research and thoughts on DRS conferences see more

    This Much I Know (About Design Research): Yoko Akama

    This Much I Know (About Design Research) is an interview series that profiles interesting DRS members. This month we spoke with Yoko Akama about her socially and culturally-engaged design research and thoughts on the DRS conferences. Akama is associate professor of communication design at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

     

    What’s your research about?

    One of my major research projects centres on Indigenous self-determination and governance in Australia. It’s a participatory design project with members of the Wiradjuri nation. We are designing various mechanisms to celebrate Wiradjuri sovereignty and cultural renewal.

    What have you found?

    This project has really affected me at a personal level and as a design researcher. It’s sensitised me further to power structures, bias and limitations in design knowledge and research. This includes colonialism and whiteness within the field.

    Can you give an example?

    Well, think about the blind peer review process. Within many worldviews, who you are and what you say brings credibility and accountability. So, this anonymity and objectivity preferred in design research becomes problematic when it's used to judge other forms of knowledge.

    Did you attend DRS2018 in Limerick?

    Yes - and it was really exciting. I noticed a greater acceptance for different design knowledge and voices, which is a sign that design research culture is diversifying. I hope this continues.

    What presentations stood out?

    Some PhD students and early career researchers are doing excellent work. I’m especially interested in feminist design research, 'designs in another name' and work addressing the Global South.

    What are your thoughts on DRS2020 in Brisbane, Australia?

    I think conferences should be shaped by agendas that are pertinent to the places where they're hosted. I’ve noticed a strong settler mind-set in Australia. There are also important conversations taking place on Indigenous treaties. It would be brilliant if these issues were addressed during the conference.

     

    Interested in getting involved in this interview series? Tell us about your work or nominate another researcher. You can contact Isabel at editor@designresearchsociety.org.

     September 03, 2018
  • Isabel Prochner posted an article
    Discussing rigour, relevance and impact in design research see more

    The Impact of Design Research in Other Research Fields

    "Design research is increasingly weak in comparison with other fields; without action to increase scientific, theoretical, and methodological rigour there is a real possibility of the field being superseded and becoming obsolete through lack of impact.”

    This is an excerpt from “Developing Theory-Driven Design Research,” an article by Philip Cash that appeared in Design Studies (May 2018). We spoke with him about this article and his views on design research, with the goal of initiating a larger discussion about the rigour, relevance and impact in design research. Cash is Associate Professor in Management Engineering at the Technical University of Denmark. Along with his co-authors, he is the recipient of the Design Studies Best Paper Award in 2017 for a previous article.

     

    Let’s start with what might be the hardest question – how do you define design research?

    Here’s my attempt: design research is the scientific study of the phenomenon of design and the activity of designing.

    What’s your paper about?

    I express concern about the strength of design research. We struggle to build new theory and this is holding us back. We’re ready for a new way of doing things and to develop more theory-driven design research!

    How did you come to this conclusion?

    I reviewed articles in six design research journals, looking at the theory and methods used and how theory develops over time.

    What’s evidence of a strong body of research?

    There would be a literature stream on methods, detailed review papers about major theories and constructs, meta-analysis, consistent use of terminology, and standards of good practice.

    And design research doesn't have this?

    Not really! Although there’s lots of great work in design research, I haven’t seen structured reviews, consistent reuse of theories or clear standards. We also need to have a serious discussion on research ethics. For example, exploring systematic bias and problems like over focusing on positive results.

    Are these issues unique to design research?

    Every field goes through a process of research development. We could learn a lot by looking at what other fields have done or are doing. As an example, education could be a comparable field because of their theory-practice relationship. They’re also at a similar phase of research development. 

    What would you recommend to move forward?

    Individual researchers need to be explicit about the theory and constructs they’re using. My second point might seem obvious, but we also need to write expecting to be read! Clear presentation of research and results is really important.

    What role can organisations, institutions and publishers have?

    Their leadership can make a huge difference. They should initiate discussions on research expectations and establish best practices, including theoretical and methodological standards.  They could also aggregate data and develop theory databases.

    What’s next for you?

    I’m starting a deeper dive into theory development and methodology in design research through a massive review of literature. I’m also looking forward to having discussions on rigour in design research.

     

    Write your comments below or contact Isabel (editor@designresearchsociety.org) if you have thoughts on this interview. The DRS Online would like to prepare follow-up articles on this important topic.

  • Isabel Prochner posted an article
    JDT is dedicated to academic study of design thinking, creativity and cognition see more

    The Journal of Design Thinking and its First Call for Submissions

    There is a growing list of great new design research journals, with She Ji and Sciences du Design (est. 2015) as prime examples. The most recent addition is the Journal of Design Thinking (JDT), dedicated to academic study of design thinking, creativity and cognition, as well as the broader topic of industrial design. Dr. Yassaman Khodadadeh, Editor-in-Chief of JDT, kindly spoke with us about her vision for this new journal. Khodadadeh is an Associate Professor of Design at the University of Tehran – and was, in fact, the first person to hold this faculty position in Iran!


    Top Left: University of Tehran during a workshop with TU Delft | Top Right: Dr. Yassaman Khodadadeh

     

    What are your hopes for JDT?

    The goal is to provide a valuable publication space for researchers worldwide and provide a possibility for exchange of ideas.

    How does JDT compare to other journals, locally and globally?

    The JDT is the first International specialized design research journal based in Iran. However, it aims to contribute to high quality design research at international and national levels.

    With these impressive goals in mind, Khodadadeh and the JDT editorial board have announced the call for papers for their first issue:

    In preparation for the first issue of the Journal of Design Thinking, we invite submissions on design thinking, design practice, the relationships between design theory and practice, reflective practice and conceptualization challenges. Please submit a paper title, abstract (max. 300 words) and author bio by February 20, 2019. Submissions must be sent by email to Alma Zanjanian, JDT Executive Director, at jdt@ut.ac.ir.

    We will evaluate abstracts through blind review and invite authors of accepted abstracts to submit a manuscript at a later date.

  • Isabel Prochner posted an article
    Discussion with Alpay Er, a DRS Fellow see more

    This Much I Know (About Design Research): Alpay Er

    This Much I Know (About Design Research) is an interview series that profiles interesting DRS members – and, in this case, a DRS Fellow. In this edition, we spoke with Alpay Er about his research on industrial design in developing economies and his thoughts on design society memberships. Er works at Özyeğin University in İstanbul and is chair of the Department of Industrial Design.

      

    How did you start out in industrial design?

    I received my first degree from the Middle Eastern Technical University in Ankara, Turkey in ’88. I went on to work in a department of furniture manufacturing at another university in Ankara, and as a research and teaching assistant.

    Then graduate school?

    Yes, I studied at Manchester Polytechnic (now Manchester Metropolitan University) in the UK. My PhD research explored the development of industrial design industries in newly industrialised countries. My design experiences in Turkey really inspired me!

    What was your experience during those early years in Turkey?

    There was a mismatch between our industrial design education imported directly from industrialised market economies, and our own economic realities in Turkey. We were trained to work in a fully competitive market – that simply wasn’t the situation in Turkey.

    Do you still explore these issues in your research?

    Absolutely I study development economics to understand relationships between design industries and regional/local contexts. Social and economic factors are so important in the formation of design industries!

    You’ve held some impressive academic positions – can you tell me about them?

    I’ve worked at several universities in Turkey: Hacettepe University, Istanbul Technical University (ITU) and now Özyeğin University, where I’m chair of the Department of Industrial Design. I’m also a longtime ICSID/World Design Organization (WDO) board member; I have served on the WDO board three times since 2011.

    And, of course, you’re a DRS Fellow!

    Yes! I got involved with the DRS back in the 1990s; my PhD supervisor John Langrish was a leading figure in the Society. The DRS invited me to become a fellow in 2006.

    What do these society memberships mean to you?

    The DRS network makes you feel that you are not alone as a design researcher. And, being a DRS Fellow is an honour. It shows recognition of my work and provides a sense of authority to my ideas. Memberships are also useful in Turkey. They provide a link to a broader community and build local awareness toward design research.

    Looking to the future, what new researchers and research specialisations are you most excited by?

    I’ve noticed some fabulous young researchers in the field of design history with an increasing interest in the role of design in social and economic development in emerging contexts. Some of these folks are studying and working at the University of Brighton. I’m inspired by their work on design/design for development, topics I’ve been passionate about for many years.

    Any parting words to share with our members?

    “Work for money, design for love” – I saw this quote at a carpet design storefront at the Grand Bazaar in İstanbul. That’s how I feel about design research, and it's served me well over the years.

     

    Interested in getting involved in this interview series? Tell us about your work or nominate another researcher. Contact Isabel at editor@designresearchsociety.org.