It has been a little bit of a niggle in the writing of these pages that the Design Methods conference, a landmark event in the history here, was held in 1962 but the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Design Research Society itself is taking place in 2016. This was exacerbated when reading Bruce Archer's address to the 1995 DRS conference which he used to mark a seemingly premature 30th anniversary by referring to the establishment of the Society taking place at the 1965 Design Method Conference.
Although the idea was clearly in the air at Birmingham it wasn't until the following Spring that the inaugural meeting took place. The following text is from Design, the journal of the Council of Industrial Design, where it appeared as a "point of view" in the September 1966 edition. This neatly states what the DRS set out to achieve with a focus on "design as an activity", undertaken by people from different disciplines and "regardless of their profession or professional status".
For those interested in creative processes
One of the problems with learned societies is that they tend to suffer from inbreeding. Yet even specialists need opportunities to mix with other people who, although perhaps not qualified, may have a contribution to make to the experts expertise; or, alternatively, with experts in other fields who share some common interest. And for this reason, the setting up of the Design Research Society* is especially welcome.
The society has been formed by the organising committee of the conference on design methods held at Imperial College, London in 1962 (DESIGN 166/37). Although that conference was restricted to invited delegates, it was unusual because they were chosen from widely different occupations they included ergonomists, architects, artists and engineers - but were united by an interest in some aspect of design.
Even so, instead of talking about their attitudes towards design, or its end products, the delegates were asked instead to discuss design as an activity. And the society, whose founder members include Professor J. K. Page (chairman), J. Christopher Jones (vice-chairman), Frank Height (treasurer) and Peter Slann (secretary), intends to do the same. Its aim is to provide facilities for the exchange of new knowledge about the design process in engineering, industrial design, the graphic arts and all other creative disciplines "by throwing its doors open to all those who can make a contribution, regardless of their profession or professional status".
As Peter Slann puts it, "There are too many specialist societies for specialists. They do not cover any interplay of ideas between different disciplines".
At the moment, the society plans to concentrate on organising similar meetings to that held in 1962, and the first one takes place this month. The purpose of these meetings will be to discuss subjects such as creativity, computer aided design and design automation, systematic design methods, system engineering and individual case histories, and to see how various design methods can be applied, for example, to architecture, engineering and industrial design. It also hopes to publish the results of these meetings, and the papers presented to them, in a journal.
If all these plans succeed, the society may help to break down barriers between different interests and, by giving people an insight into how others go about their creative work, help to destroy the division which exists between the arts and sciences.
*The society's address is Imperial College, London SW7
Design 213 September 1966 p30
The article was accompanied by this quite charming portrait of Professor Page:
The full journal, along with many other design related resources, is available at the Visual Arts Data Service, online at http://vads.ac.uk