Design Research – History, theory, practice: histories for future-focused thinking

Harriet Atkinson, Maya Rae Oppenheimer

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


Writing soon after the 1962 Conference on Design Methods at Imperial College - the event that led to the founding of the Design Research Society in 1966 – J.C. Jones and D.G. Thornley described the Conference’s purpose as twofold. Firstly, the event determined the parameters of a collective agenda and, secondly, it enabled discussions that would catalyse future developments in design methods work (Slann, 1963). On the occasion of the Design Research Society (DRS)’s fiftieth anniversary, this conference strand continues this dialogue with a specific agenda: to assess histories of future-focused thinking and to consider the histories, theories and practices shared between design researchers. What emerges from evaluations of the Design Methods Movement and of Design Research is the continuous search for a common language and common methods and an interest in problem solving, by bringing scientific methods to bear on design. If we understand the history of Design Research in generational terms, this panel suggests a new era: a generation of rigorous interdisciplinary collaboration. This stretches to include practice methods, research, writing and diverse collaborations across academic colleagues from various disciplinary enclaves. Victor Margolin echoed this vanguard at the DRS2010 conference, noting that design research today “pursues its interests based on its own criteria for best practice and meaningful results” (Margolin, 2010, p.1). We interpret this as pursuing meaningful discourse on shared- and dual-inspirational, creative work in design developments. As part of this collaboration we ask: what can design historians contribute to the understanding of design research as a process comprised of history, theory and especially practice? And what can design research contribute to design history’s interest in critical, reflexive and inclusive investigations into past design contexts and developments, in order to ensure sound, future-focused thinking?
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
EventDesign Research Society 2016 - Brighton, 27-30 June 2016
Duration: 1 Jun 2016 → …


ConferenceDesign Research Society 2016
Period1/06/16 → …

Bibliographical note

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial 4.0 International License.


  • Design Research
  • Design History
  • critical practice
  • design theory


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