Interview

  • 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.

  • 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.