(SPECULATIVE) FUTURES IN DESIGN RESEARCH
Cameron Tonkinwise is the Director of Design Studies and Doctoral Studies at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design. Cameron’s background is in philosophy and he explores what designers can learn from philosophies of making, material culture studies and sociologies of technology. His research focuses on Sustainable Design and Service Design, and in particular systems of shared use.
Richard Coyne is Professor of Architecture at Edinburgh University. His research and writing draws on a broad interdisciplinary framework for examining the relationship between technology, design, space, and contemporary cultural theories. His projects investigating sound, virtual environments, impacts of social media, video gaming, interaction design and the philosophy of technology. Read Richard's blog to find out more.
Ramia Mazé specialises in participatory and critical practices of design. She is Professor of New Frontiers in Design at Aalto University in Finland. Trained as a designer and architect, she publishes and exhibits widely through interdisciplinary and international research in the areas of sustainable development, design activism, smart materials, and interactive spaces.
Veronica Ranner is a designer, artist, and researcher interested in emerging bio-technologies and bio-fabrication, systems design, and new roles for designers. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD at the Royal College of Art, examining the burgeoning domain of the bio-digital — the space where computational thinking meets biological matter.
TUESDAY 28TH JUNE
Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Design realises preferred futures and the process for getting to the nature of ‘preferred’ involves balancing: the radical and the feasible, the long-term and the short-term, the particularities of some and what suits most. Despite Futures being an established discipline and practice, few Design Schools seem to explicitly teach its principles and techniques.
Some of this reticence is perhaps a reaction to the deterministic futuring of modernist designing. Strong visions of futures were imposed on society in procrustean ways and current societies must deal with their consequent unsustainability. As a result there is the risk of design tending toward the timid. Bold visions are supplanted by what must be evidence-based, or collaboratively consensual, or iteratively emergent.
What remains of design visioning are ‘speculations.’ When it comes to the future, the designer’s only responsibility appears to be to provoke thought, not argue for what should be preferred. The first debate considers the role of Design Research in Futuring and Futuring in Design Research.
(Sustainable) DESIGN RESEARCH for Change
Guy Julier is the University of Brighton Principal Research Fellow in Contemporary Design at the Victoria & Albert Museum and Professor of Design Culture. From 2003 to 2010 he was Honorary Professor at Glasgow School of Art and in 2008 was the William Evans Visiting Fellow at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. In 2013 he was appointed Visiting Professor at the University of Southern Denmark for two years.
Conny Bakker is Associate Professor at the TU Delft where she teaches courses in Sustainable Design and Design for the Circular Economy. She researches in Circular Product Design, in particular the design and development of products that have multiple lifecycles. She is also interested in the field of user-centred sustainable design, which focuses on exploring the relationships between consumer behaviour, sustainability and design.
Jonathan Chapman is Professor of Sustainable Design at the University of Brighton. He is best known for developing the concept of ‘emotionally durable design’. His research into the emotional dimensions of product longevity has advanced design and business thinking in a range of settings, from Sony, Puma, Philips and The Body Shop to the UK's House of Lords and the United Nations.
Yolande Strengers is a Senior Research Fellow at RMIT University’s Centre for Urban Research, where she co-leads the Beyond Behaviour Research Program. Yolande’s research spans the disciplines of sociology, geography, science and technology studies, and human-computer interaction design. She leads a series of projects exploring the intersections between smart technology and everyday life with her work oriented towards achieving sustainability outcomes and demand reductions.
Wednesday 29TH JUNE
Brighton Dome Concert Hall
Design is the expert practice of change-making. Being change oriented places a burden on design research that can be at odds with the creativity of designing. As with many professional practices, there are pressures for design to become more evidence-based but do designers have a good track record in learning from design research in this way?
The case study of Sustainable Design suggests not. The demand for designers to take responsibility for enhancing the sustainability of our societies has been voiced powerfully for a long time and as a result sustainable design has become a strongly ‘research-led’ process. Since arguably the majority of designs remain ecologically harmful in significant ways, why has sustainable design research not been as effective as it could have been? Should more improvement in the ecological performance of designed products, environments and services have taken place?
Our second debate considers how design research can address the massive challenge of enhancing societal sustainability? What can we learn from sustainable design research?
DESIGN RESEARCH in (thE tech) Industry
Lucy Kimbell is director of the Innovation Insights Hub, University of the Arts London and associate fellow at Said Business School, University of Oxford where she has been teaching design on the MBA since 2005. During 2014-15 Lucy was AHRC design research fellow embedded in Policy Lab in the Cabinet Office of the UK government. She has written widely on design thinking and design for service. Lucy’s book, ‘Service Innovation Handbook’, was published in 2014.
Jabe Bloom is an experienced executive leader of software and product development companies. For 20 years he has focused on connecting design with software engineering and operational excellence. Currently he is pursuing a PhD in Design Studies at Carnegie Mellon University. His research focuses on understanding how temporality can better inform Transition Design.
Kees Dorst is Professor of Design Innovation at the University of Technology Sydney and holds a professorship at Eindhoven University of Technology in The Netherlands. He is founder and director of the UTS Design Innovation Research Centre and lectures at universities and design schools throughout the world. His most recent books include ‘Frame Innovation – create new thinking by design’ (2015) and ‘Designing for the Common Good’ (2016).
Nick Durrant spent five years in Silicon Valley working at the coalface of interaction design for operating systems – prototyping a variety of groupware products and services (Taligent, IBM, 280, Netscape). On return to the UK he brought user-centred design strategy to a number of design agencies and digital consultancies (Metadesign, IconMedialab, Futurebrand Digital, Innocence, Interbrand) and their clients, and mentored a new generation of interaction designers and researchers with approaches to service design. In 2003, he co-founded the innovation agency Plot, to support action across the private, public, and third sectors.
ThursDAY 30TH JUNE
Brighton Dome Concert Hall
As Design Schools have been incorporated into university systems, developing formal research activity and doctoral programs, the industries responsible for bringing computation to everyday devices have developed and promoted contextual inquiry and user research. While much of this work has been done in partnership with universities, it has often been led by industry.
Current industry trends suggest that this balance is shifting further. Digital devices afford rapid, field-released modification which means that tech companies can incorporate design thinking into processes of rapid iteration. Design research in industry at the moment is predominantly a series of data-analytic-based sprints. This accelerated empiricism constrains design research’s capacity for long-term forethought and criticality.
Industry-driven initiatives such as personas have resulted in very significant contributions to design research so shouldn’t design research be led by the discipline of design? In our third debate we ask how academic design researchers can gain agency in the face of the wealth and speed of the tech industry?
Reflections and Directions
Ezio Manzini coordinates DESIS: an international network of schools of design and other design-related organisations for social innovation and sustainability. Throughout his professional life he has taught and researched at the Politecnico di Milano. He was director and vice-president of the Domus Academy, Professor of Design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Distinguished Visiting Professor, at Parsons, the New School for Design, in New York.
Alison Thomson is a doctoral researcher at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her practice-based PhD explores how design-research can re-do ‘the patient experience’ considering the multiple realities of Multiple Sclerosis and its ontological politics. Together with Bianca Elzenbaumer and Maria Portugal Alison founded PhD by Design a workshop-based forum for practice-based PhD researchers.
Anna Valtonen is Dean of Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Vice President for Art
and Creative Practices at Aalto University, and co-chair for DRS2014 in Umea, Sweden. Her research has primarily focused on Finnish design history and on how design is used in organisations.
Adam de Eyto is co-coordinator for the Design Factors research
group at the University of Limerick. His research interests lie in the area of Design for Sustainability, New Product Development, Sustainable Product Service Systems, Behavioural Change and
Soft Product Design.
Chris Hammond is a Design Research Leader for IBM Design where he is member of the design practices team, responsible for enabling all of IBM to think like designers. While leading cross-functional teams at the consultant Kaleidoscope, Chris honed his love for the opportunity space between research and design to deliver user-centered outcomes.
THURSDAY 30TH JUNE
Brighton Dome Concert Hall
In the final debate of DRS2016 we ask five participants, from a wide variety of Design Research backgrounds and experience, to tell us about how they found the conference.
What inspired, frustrated or delighted them? Where are the areas of strength to build on and weakness to fix? And what themes and formats should we be exploring as a research field and in future conferences?
Jonathan Chapman is Professor of Sustainable Design at the University of Brighton and Co-Chair for DRS2016. He is best known for developing the concept of ‘emotionally durable design’. His research into the emotional dimensions of product longevity has advanced design and business thinking in a range of settings, from Sony, Puma, Philips and The Body Shop to the UK's House of Lords and the United Nations.