This Much I Know (About Design Research)

  • 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
    Reviving and reimagining Caribbean craft traditions through computation see more

    This Much I Know (About Design Research): Vernelle A. A. Noel

    This is the second interview in a new series for the DRS online called This Much I Know (About Design Research). Each article in this series profiles an interesting DRS member to highlight their work and reflections on design research. This time we spoke with Vernelle A. A. Noel about her research on craft practices and computation.

    Vernelle is an architect and PhD researcher at Penn State University in the USA. Her work is at the intersections of craft, design, computation and culture. Originally from Trinidad & Tobago, Caribbean culture and design are central in her work. Her current project explores the Trinidad Carnival and wire-bending craft traditions. She uses computation to help revive wire-bending practices and reinterpret them for application in architecture.

     

     

    Why have you focused on Carnival?

    Carnival is an important part of Caribbean history, culture and design. French planters introduced it to Trinidad in the 1780s and newly emancipated slaves reinvented it in the 1830s as a way to celebrate their freedom and creativity. Although it takes place once per year, people spend all year preparing! The festival includes a parade and serious music and costume competitions.

    How is your research related to Carnival?

    My research explores Carnival through a design lens. I’m troubled by the mass-production of costumes, which arrive ready-made from abroad. Design and making traditions risk being lost, so I try to re-engage people in these processes.

    What is it about wire-bending?

    Wire-bending is a beautiful local craft that’s incorporated in Carnival costumes. The details are astonishing! However, it’s a difficult and labour intensive process done mostly by men.

    How are you encouraging people to engage with wire-bending?

    I’ve been exploring how wire-bending can be reinterpreted through computation and digital technology, which I believe will help increase access to the craft, especially for women and children. I also have a background in architecture, so I’m investigating the application of wire-bending in architectural form.

    What are the outcomes of your research so far?

    I've been able to make wire-bending knowledge explicit and hold craft workshops. Youth seem engaged by computational making and the technology facilitates collaboration. Wire-bending is usually a solitary activity, so it’s exciting to consider the possibilities of group making. I’ve also been experimenting with wire-bending and developing prototypes (images above).

    What do you think about the DRS?

    Community is very important to me, so I love that the DRS brings together a strong design research community. 

    What design researchers are especially inspirational in your work?

    I draw on theorists like Nigel Cross and Michael Reddy, but one of my biggest inspirations was my professor Lucienne Blessing. She taught a course on design research, which helped me understand the field.

    How can readers learn more about Caribbean design?

    I enjoy reading Maco, a Caribbean design and lifestyle magazine.

     

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

  • Isabel Prochner posted an article
    Discussion on building French-language design research see more

    This Much I Know (About Design Research): Stéphane Vial

    This is the third interview in a series for the DRS online called This Much I Know (About Design Research). Each article in this series profiles an interesting DRS member to highlight their work and reflections on design research. This time we spoke with Stéphane Vial about his work with Francophone design research communities. Vial is an associate professor of design at the Université de Nîmes in France, and is the author of many esteemed books and articles. 

     

     

    What inspires your work on building French design knowledge?

    Like many things, design research is anglocentric. It's important to foster dialogues and research communities in other languages. Further, each language offers its own contributions. For example, French design research often draws on French intellectual traditions.

    So how have you contributed to French-language design research? 

    I’m working to help develop Francophone design research through my publications and community engagement. I wrote an introductory book on design theory and history called Le Design (design). I co-founded Sciences du Design (sciences of design), the first design research journal in France, where I am now editor-in-chief. I also moderate a popular French-language design research mailing list at http://www.recherche-design.org.

    What can other design researchers do to help your project?

    Write in other languages! Sciences du Design accepts articles from Francophones, as well as new papers translated to French. It would also be great to see more localised panels at conferences and special issues of journals published in different languages.

    What is your design research speciality?

    I take a philosophical approach to the digital revolution, exploring how we experience design and the effect of the digital on perception. One of my most read books is L’Être et l’Écran (being and screen), which is currently being translated to English and will be part of the MIT Press' Design Thinking, Design Theory series. Together with Pieter Vermaas, I also co-edited Advancements in the Philosophy of Design, which was just released and will be introduced at the DRS2018 conference. 

    How do you view the DRS?

    The DRS is the origin of design research in Europe and represents research excellence. The conferences are also a great opportunity to meet other design researchers. For example, I met my new collaborator Nynke Tromp at DRS2016!

    What design researchers are you following now?

    I'm really inspired by Nynke Tromp's work on social design and Tomás Dorta's exploration of augmented co-design and research through design.

    What's next?

    I'm excited to announce a new book project called Vocabulaire du Design (design vocabulary). It will be a catalogue of design concepts and definitions, published by the Presses Universitaires de France (University Presses of France). 

    Have you got an inspiring quote to end on?

    "La fin ou le but du design est d’améliorer ou au moins de maintenir l’habitabilité du monde dans toutes ses dimensions" (The end or the goal of design is to improve or, at least, maintain the liveability of the world in all its dimensions) - Alain Findeli

     

    Interested in getting involved in this interview series? Tell us about your exciting work or nominate another researcher. You can 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
    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.

  • Isabel Prochner posted an article
    We speak to Søren about his Design Research Failures project and vision for design research see more

    This Much I Know (About Design Research): Søren Rosenbak

    This is the first interview in a new series for the DRS online called This Much I Know (About Design Research). Every month or so, we’ll profile an interesting DRS member to highlight their work and reflections on design research. This month, we speak to PhD Researcher Søren Rosenbak about his Design Research Failures project and his vision for the future of design research.

    Søren is a PhD candidate in design as critical practice at the Umeå Institute of Design in Sweden. His research revolves around the question of how pataphysics can infuse and advance a critical design practice. He has a background in visual communication, interaction design and filmmaking. Søren's academic and professional background helped inspire the Design Research Failures project, which he launched at DRS2016.

     

     

    What is Design Research Failures?

    It's a project that asks participants: in what way has design research failed in the last 50 years? I first introduced it at DRS2016, with support from a 50th Anniversary bursary. Since then, the project has expanded and taken place at several conferences and other events. It also lives online at https://designresearchfailures.com

    How did you come up with the idea?

    The project was a reaction to the 50th Anniversary of the DRS. Instead of being purely celebratory and focused on successes, this landmark seemed to me like an important moment to ask difficult questions and for the DRS to engage in self-critique. I thought this reflective process could then inform how design research moves forward into the next half-century.

    How do pataphysics and critical practice fit it?

    These ideas are a major influence for me, they help encourage critical thinking which help destabilize and move beyond notions of fixed ‘truth.’

    Why is failing so important to you?

    Failure is celebrated in design practice, but design researchers rarely honour or even articulate their failures. I think this is a missed opportunity that could help advance design research.

    Why do you think the project worked?

    Diversity is a major strength in the project. Different answers coming from different researchers make the results richer and encourage discussion. While the project is inherently open-ended, certain themes have started to emerge. I'm trying to pull these common threads together at the moment! 

    What do you think about the DRS?

    The DRS is inspiring to me. While it’s a major design research organization with a long history, its encouraging to see the DRS actively embrace new ideas and engage in self-critique. Hopefully this will continue and, over time, help respond to some new design research failures.

    How can others connect with your project?

    I'd love to get others involved with the project. Design researchers can use the project for themselves and adapt it to their own needs. Local and situated discussions and workshops would offer a valuable contribution to the larger conversation.

    What piece of advice would you give to design researchers?

    Of course: fail fast, succeed sooner!

     

    Søren would like to thank the many amazing people who have helped make Design Research Failures a reality. Project credits are available online at https://designresearchfailures.com/about/ 

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