Call for Conversations


The 2016 Design Research Society Conference is accepting submissions for structured discussions and experimental session formats that advance conversation around emergent forms and topics of design research within the broad theme of "Design + Research + Society: Future-Focused Thinking" and more generally addressing the three questions we pose:

  • How can design research help frame and address the societal problems that face us?
  • How can design research be a creative and active force for rethinking ideas about Design?
  • How can design research shape our lives in more responsible, meaningful, and open ways?

This call follows the successful introduction of the conversations format at the DRS 2014 conference, as well as the rediscovery of the activities format at the 1973 Design Research Society/Design Methods Group conference.

An excerpt from the manifesto for the 1973 Design Research Society/Design Methods Group Conference

An excerpt from the manifesto for the 1973 Design Research Society/Design Methods Group Conference

The aim of the conversation format is to engage a limited number of attendees in open exchange in arriving at new understandings about a topic. The ambitions of the format are:

  • to provide an environment where a constructive dialogue can take place about issues of importance in Design Research, particularly to promote exchanges about topics not easily captured by the scholarly paper;
  • to foster open exchange, by talking, but also by means of play, prototyping, critique of each others' work produced on-the-spot, or even activism;
  • to welcome exchanges across stakeholders such as researchers, practitioners and other design stakeholders

Review, Criteria and Submission

Conversation proposals should be submitted to the conference submission system and will be reviewed by a sub-committee of the DRS Programme Committee. We expect that a Conversation will be hosted by 3-5 catalysts who present or elicit work and who facilitate an open exchange for 1-2 hours.  

Conversation proposals should include:

  1. A list of 3-5 confirmed catalysts, their job titles and their roles for this session;
  2. A title and short description (1-2 paragraphs) of the topic that you will address;
  3. An organizing research question that you are posing for the session;
  4. A description of the set-up of your session, including how you plan to incorporate and document the contributions of others;
  5. A description of the type of space and equipment required;
  6. A strategy for dissemination. DRS2016 will provide an online forum to help refine such a strategy. The benefit for the catalysts is a citable result;

Download the Conversation Template

Submit your Conversation Proposal to DRS

Reviewers will be looking for relevance of topic and format, as well as feasibility for an open and engaging session. We welcome proposals focusing on specific topics, objects of design, but also on the meta-perspective of how to do design and design research. We are particularly interested in proposals that bring together diverse perspectives, are experiential in nature, and that will productively challenge our assumptions of what the topics and forms of design research are or could be.


The catalysts are expected to produce a concluding document from their conversation sessions. The formats for this will be developed collaboratively in an online forum ahead of the DRS2016 conference. They may take the form, for example, of a Storify report or fanzine. Our aim is to get an exchange going ahead of the actual conference that includes support and tips. Dissemination results will be featured on the DRS2016 site following the conference.


  • Submission for Conversation proposals opens: 20th November 2015
  • Deadline for Conversation proposals: 1st February 2016 (now extended to 8th February)
  • Notification of acceptance of Conversations, invitation to join pre-DRS2016 online forum: 7 March 2016
  • Definitive dissemination format and call for participation: 15 April 2016

Developing your Conversation Proposal

If you are interested in developing a conversation for DRS2016 please feel free to contact Stella Boess, the DRS2016 Conversations Chair who can give you further guidance and feedback.

DRS2016 Conversations Chair
Stella Boess
TU Delft, The Netherlands

DRS2016 Conversations Advisor
Carl DiSalvo
Georgia Institute of Technology, US