The Conference on design methods is widely regarded, and this view is maintained elsewhere on this website and on the DRS2016 twitter feed, as the event where it all started. There was arguably some earlier activity that led up to this conference: the Feilden Committee on Engineering Design for example was convened a year earlier and would go on to recognise the need "to impress upon the managements of engineering businesses the vital importance of the design function in engineering activity" and to "increase the prestige of design and the status of designers within the engineering profession" (HC Deb 28 Feb 1967, vol 742, cc53-6W).
The 1962 conference clearly contributes towards this impression, marking a stage in the development of design as a multi-disciplinary collection of complementary perspectives. The conference was held between the 19th to 21st September 1962 in "premises made available by the Department of Aeronautics, Imperial College, London" (Jones & Christopherson, 1963:p.vii). The premises in question, the Roderic Hill building in South Kensington, was the first completed building in an expansion of the campus at Imperial College London that was taking place at in the late 1950s. Opened by the Queen Mother in 1957 this building, with its wind tunnels (as illustrated in New Scientist, 23 May 1957), seems to embody a new era not only for ICL but also for the way that engineering, design and academia might work together in a period of modernisation that would become popularised by Harold Wilson and his white heat.
According to Peter Slann's foreword, "no apology is made for the diversity of the material contained in this book" which brought together a collection of academics and practitioners in, for example, engineering, education, town planning, architecture, systems engineering, psychology and fine art. This is just a selection of the speakers - the audience was presumably more diverse still? Design, Research and Society indeed.
The prospect of a stage with Ken Norris explaining the process of designing his land speed record breaking car, Bluebird C.N.7, alongside Christopher Alexander, about to set off to India to design a village using his prototype pattern book, alongside Howard Hodgkin explaining his view on art as the production of images that nobody wants and that serve no material function, is a prospect that is surely worth holding onto and even, 50 or so years on, surely worth capturing the spirit, perhaps in a different shaped bottle, to be savoured and replicated at DRS2016 and beyond.
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