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CRISP at the Design Research Society 2014 in Sweden

The field of Design research is growing quickly. Often academic conferences focus on specific topics, the Design Research conference in Umea (Sweden, June 2014) questioned big societal issues to push the boundaries of design research.
That also requires rethinking the format of the conference. Researchers were challenged to not only give paper presentations but also to participate in debates in the morning in over 30 compelling conversations which involved people who do not regularly participate.

Foster Interdisciplinary teamwork
The fact that the future is no longer predictable is repeated in many conversations. What is predictable though, is that for the Big Issues, that this conference centres around, it is essential that designers work in multidisciplinary teams. But what is the role of the designer in these teams? Is he the one facilitating, leading or catalyzing it? An interesting remark is that social scientists rarely speculate about the future whereas for designers propositional questions are in their DNA. They like to make sense of diverse voices and work with technological imaginaries. With diegetic prototypes they can suspend disbelief about societal changes. Therefore design practitioners can be a strong catalyst for multistakeholder operations. Design artifacts can be used to foster dialogue in interdisciplinary teams Bas Raijmakers  (Reader Readership Strategic Creativity Design Academy Eindhoven) explains. He presents how the Value Pursuit, a game that aligns expectations, designed by one of his Researcher Associates (Karianne Rygh, PSS101) can stimulate networked collaborations.

Design Education
A very important topic at the conference was the question how to prepare design education for the future? Service design is one of the newest kind of offerings on the roaster of classes on design, mentions Stefan Holmlid, (Assistant professor/lecturer in interaction and service design, Linkoping University).  We clearly need to focus on that in design education. But how do we find those basic and generic skills that work under transforming conditions? Is the next thing biodesign? Is it something else?” As for Froukje Sleeswijk Visser (researcher TU Delft) it’s important that designers can shift from abstract to concrete knowledge. Paul Hekkert remarks that designers sometimes also needs to take a stand: “they should learn from politicians and be a bit more outspoken.” We clearly need more debates to find out the role of design in the big debates.  

For a more elaborate report of the DRS2014, please see the attached appendix.

For more information: DRS2014

by Danielle Arets & Ellen Zoete

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Danielle Arets