Keynote Debates

DRS2018 Limerick Keynote Debates

Debate 1: June 26
Design Research and Industry Impacts:  Exploring the changing nature of design research and practice within academia and industry.

Here are the questions from Tuesday 26th's session

Download the presentations:
Mariana Amatullo
Paul Rodgers

Design is moving beyond merely being an instrumentalised tool for industry, and becoming an altruistic agent for, and of, change as well as a force for social innovation.

The role of design research, and design researchers within this 'world beyond' is prompting a change of perspective from both academia and industry. A new generation of designers are challenging the evolving role, and nature, of design research for both practice and industry; questioning whether design research is a tool for industry or an agent for social and cultural change, or if it can be both.

This debate will explore the changing nature and context of design research and practice, pointing toward the implications of this change for realising impact. What is needed to support these new design research principles and emergent practices, and how design researchers can pursue new impactful research pathways that truly engage wider society.

With multinationals opening design-led, multidisciplinary R&D hubs to explore how digital and emerging technologies transform businesses and society, does academia need to look at how education can engage more collaboratively with industry-led research to make innovation real?

Impact has always been a consideration for design researchers, but it is only recently that a more explicit and systemic monitoring and measuring of impact has emerged - due to the economic downturn the impact of design research, and in particular government funded research, has come under increased scrutiny. Can we develop ways of measuring the value and impact of research within the design process, and successfully demonstrate economic, societal, healthcare, environmental and political impact?

Designers are increasingly working collaboratively, in a research-led way, on trans-disciplinary projects. Designers are advocating and lobbying for change, linking with social and political processes and documenting and sharing best practice. How we can the design eco-system support the development of design-led research communities that collaborate, co-generate knowledge and achieve collective impact on complex issues?

Moderated by Prof. Alex Milton
Debate Participants: Dr. Mariana Amatullo, Lorna Ross & Prof. Paul Rodgers​


Debate 2: June 27
Social & Public: Exploring changing contexts of design research and practice through the intersections between design for policy and social design.

Here are the questions from Wednesday 27th's session

A growing community of design researchers and practitioners have been presenting design as a pragmatic yet speculative approach to policy making, politics and social innovation. Typically design is presented as a counterpoint to the dominant normative, ideological or utopian approaches used by policy makers, political scientists and social activists.

Design in these political and social contexts is often more than simple solutionism in that it considers the practices of policy making, framing of policy or social problems and the evaluation and learning mechanisms of policy makers and citizens. Therefore there is a need for a deeper and wider debate on the distinctiveness of design in relation to other disciplines operating in the policy and social contexts.

This debate will explore the intersections between design for policy and social design. In doing so, the discussion will address the issue from  number of perspective. These include:
1) the evolving role of design, the design researcher and designer in the above contexts (e.g. problem framing, policy-relevant evidence, policy experimentation, mediation, facilitation, futuring).
2) the competencies and wellbeing the design researcher and designer (working with(in) complex systems, bureaucracies, power structures, through networks).
3) responsibility of design education, if any, for supporting designers and design researchers to work in these contexts

The debate will critically examine intersections between existing and emerging trends around design for policy, social design alongside other emerging perspectives such as systemic design, transition design and public service design. By exploring these intersections the debate will open a discussion in the relationships between the research, practice and education domains.

Moderated by Dr. Simon O'Rafferty
Debate Participants: Dr. Andrea Siodmok & Dr. Ramia Mazé

Debate 3: June 28
Whose Design?: Sharing counter perspectives on dominant design gazes.

Here are the questions from Thursday 28th's session
Download the presentations:
Andrea Botero
Sadie Red Wing
Arturo Escobar

There is increasing recognition about design's key role in the creation of conditions, infrastructures, and the very worlds within which we live our lives. This recognition has fostered diverse calls for the reorientation of the design disciplines, away from the functionalist, rationalist, and industrial traditions dominant for most of their history; and towards more socially conscious, political, situated, and relational practices. In asking “Whose Design?” we seek to explore diverse understandings and counterpoints to dominant design gazes, both from the perspective of design as a noun (what is it that particular designs do in the world?) and as a verb (how should we go about designing our way out of the current mess?).

Rather than offering easy and straightforward answers to these questions, what we need is to stir discussion on the nature and scale of the work ahead. Can design research offer, beyond novel methodologies, political commitments for alternative ontologies? What is it that design researchers need to do, in order to move beyond Anglo/Eurocentric and capitalistic design lenses in the short term? In the long term? Should the program be one of inclusion and reform (as in let’s include the “others,” or let’s infuse design with environmental and social justice goals), or should the program be one of significant transformation (as in let’s reimagine design’s core categories altogether)?

The conversation will build bridges between certain trends in decolonial, feminist, and indigenous (amongst others) theories and debates around the world, on the one hand, and design theory and practice, on the other. The aim is to identify points of tension but also synergies between these two knowledge, activist, and professional domains.

Moderated by Dr. Andrea Botero 
Debate Participants: Sadie Red Wing & Prof. Arturo Escobar