ID Hosts Steering Committee Workshop to Envision Design Research Organization for US and Canada

From April 28-30, 2016 a task force of design scholars and professionals from the US and Canada met at IIT Institute of Design in Chicago to discuss the need for a design research organization for North America. Design research societies exist in many Asian and European countries. In the US and Canada, there are professional design societies, but nothing that supports design researchers in academia. By the end of the two-day workshop, participants agreed that there might be a need for a design research society with a focus on constructive design research that intends to transform and improve artificial systems. This new organization could serve the needs of academic design researchers in North America, and it could also help build a global community of scholarly researchers and practitioners who share an interest in design action as a force of intentional change.

Design Research Organization Workshop

This group comprised a cross-disciplinary culture—an interstitial collective—of design practitioners and researchers from design, humanities, social sciences, and computer science who investigate material and symbolic interventions that shape the future. We worked to develop a culture intended to support and facilitate the entry and participation of multiple intellectual traditions and practices. We also worked to help each other comprehend the intellectual landscape of making, doing, and exchanging design research. Our central goal was to unpack how different societies and organizations deliver value for their members and then envision and assess a new design research organization that could deliver on unmet needs and that would minimize overlaps with organizations that already work well.

Building on the success we’ve had in working with technical innovation, we now recognize a need for more effective systemic design. Thinking historically, design was linked to aesthetics, then functionality and innovation: it is not yet sufficiently linked to impacts in problem solving or complexity at the societal level. We are proposing a linking organization of academia, government, foundations, business, startups to help us to better develop and articulate design knowledge.

Steps to take:

  • Get resources to do the study to quantify the call for action, which then feeds into the bigger call to action to create the collective. e.g. Knight Foundation.
  • Get additional authority from having done our homework e.g. DesignX.
  • Collect some examples to help strengthen the argument by serving as anecdotes. e.g. MSK, Mayo, cities.
  • Lead discussions through online media such as DRS in order to get large-scale feedback.
  • Write white papers/position papers for various journals to disseminate the idea. Pay attention to relationships to DesignX and other existing initiatives. Include big data analysis of the landscape of existing journals. e.g. Design Issues, Visible Language, She-Ji.
  • Refine our concept of what the collective is and will do: what gaps it fills. Early ideation session resulting in defining artifacts for use in subsequent steps. e.g. a charter.
  • Invite an advisory board to help form and strengthen strategic relations.
  • Get some institutional core members to provide endowments of a sustaining kind. We will figure out an engagement model. e.g. an invitation to an event of exclusivity, involving selected non-competing organizations.
  • Announcement at IASDR in Oct 2017 in Cincinnati.

For additional information, please contact Carlos Teixeira, PhD, Associate Professor in Design, IIT Institute of Design, USA.

Steering Committee

Carlos Teixeira, IIT Institute of Design, USA
John Zimmerman, Carnegie Mellon University, USA

Carl DiSalvo, Georgia Tech, US
Wonjoon Chung, Carleton University, Canada
Liz Sanders, Ohio State University, US
Lara Penin from Parsons School of Design, US
Linda Wagner, University of Washington, US
Jay Melican, Intel Corporation, US
Katie Salen, DePaul University and Institute of Play, US
Erik Stolterman, Indiana University, US

Other participants
Clive Dilnot, Parsons School of Design, US
Eduardo Staszowski, Parsons School of Design, US
David Durling, Coventry University, UK
Matt Wizinsky, University of Cincinnati, US
Mike Zender, University of Cincinnati, US
Maryam Heidaripour, PhD Student, IIT Institute of Design
Tom Jenkins, PhD Student, Georgia Tech, US
Cameron Tonkinwise, Carnegie Mellon University, US
Laura Forlano, IIT Institute of Design, US
Kei Sato, IIT Institute of Design, US
Stan Ruecker, IIT Institute of Design, US
Tom MacTavish, IIT Institute of Design, US
Christine Miller, IIT Stuart School of Business, US
Gerry Derksen, Winthrop University, US
Christine Webb, University of Waterloo, Canada
Daniela K. Rosner, University of Washington, US