D R S _ N E W S
The electronic newsletter of the Design Research Society
Volume 2, Number 9
o Editor's space
o Relaunch of the DRS Discussion List
o PhD research in design - John Chris Jones
o Announcements & Calls for Papers
o Forthcoming events
o Cyber News
o The Design Research Society: details of membership
o Electronic Services of the DRS
o Contributing to DRS_NEWS
At last! a new DRS discussion list is launched, named simply
'DRS'. Details of how to join are listed below.
The Design Research Society now has two lists:
'Design-Research' will continue to bring you this newsletter, and
to announce certain events.
'DRS' is for discussion of design research and related matters.
The nature of the traffic it carries is entirely up to you.
You may join one of these lists or both of them. I hope that
issues raised in this newsletter will be discussed via the new
discussion list. For example, John Chris Jones' article on PhDs
is controversial, and people may wish to respond appropriately.
I look forward to future discussions.
RELAUNCH OF DRS DISCUSSION LIST
We are pleased to announce the relaunch of an open and
unmoderated discussion list for design researchers. This takes
the form of a new, separate list, called 'drs'. Since it is a
new list you will need to subscribe to it by following the
We look forward to your contributions (on wheelchairs or other
Conall O Cathain, Chairman,
Design Research Society
SUBSCRIBING TO 'DRS'
To subscribe to 'drs' send the following command:
join drs firstname(s) lastname
as the only text in the body of a message addressed to:
PhD RESEARCH IN DESIGN - John Chris Jones
(my answers to Dirk Jacobs' questions - Dirk Jacobs is a teacher
at the Department of Product Development at Hogeschool Antwerpen,
Ambtmanstraat 1, Antwerp, Belgium. The questions are reproduced
with his permission.)
1. NATURE AND CRITERIA OF RESEARCH
a. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF A PhD QUALIFICATION FOR DESIGNERS?
A measure of ability to integrate imagination-and-reason,
technology-and-art, and to make noticeable improvements to the
quality of industrial life and its products. To successfully
integrate art and science (as art/science, a new discipline, if
you want to give it a name). Difficult!
b. CAN A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PhD IN ART, A PhD IN AN ACADEMIC
AREA AND A PhD IN DESIGN BE DESCRIBED?
What a good question! The best work is indescribable - you have
to experience it.
A PhD IN ART: should show exceptional perceptiveness,
originality, in art-making (and indeed in living).
A PhD IN AN ACADEMIC AREA: should show exceptional ability to
understand and to add to the original literature in any subject
(including art, art history and design theory).
A PhD IN DESIGN: should show exceptional ability in the
designerly qualities described in my answer to question 1a.
c. DO THERE EXIST TYPICAL CRITERIA IN DESIGN RESEARCH?
Not yet. I believe that Professor Nigel Cross, editor of Design
Studies, has gone some way towards this in his various
publications and editorials, but I doubt if anyone has yet found
a definition of designerly research that does not risk excluding
or inhibiting imaginative work for the sake of academic
respectability and reputation. His recent editorial giving
100 keywords for design research is interesting - the keywords
are reprinted in each issue.
d. WHAT CRITERIA CAN BE FOUND IN THE CRAFT ASPECT OF DESIGN?
'The craft aspect of design' sounds to me like a misnomer, but
here is my answer:
Integrity, skill, risk (as described by David Pye, formerly at
the Royal College Art - I don't recall the titles of his books),
and in the qualities described in 'The wheelwright's shop' by
George Sturt, (Cambridge University Press) itself a model for
this kind of study, combining philosophic depth and
perceptiveness with extensive practical know-how. No one awarded
Sturt a PhD but it might be a test of the definitions you seek
to ask if they would apply to such classic studies as those of
Sturt and Pye.
2 MOTIVATION OF DESIGNERS
a. WHAT COULD BE THE MEANING OF A DOCTORATE FOR DESIGNERS?
Exceptional ability, as defined in 1a, such as to be able to
give a lead to others and to be able to inspire them.
b. WHY WOULD A DESIGNER DO THIS? CAN PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL
MOTIVES BE CLARIFIED?
Not just to become an academic! I fear that this motive has in
the past led to some somewhat vacuous PhDs by people who lacked
both design ability and philosophic modesty. I'd like to see
some PhDs in design recognising a virtuoso quality in practical
and imaginative skill.
c. DO THERE EXIST PERSONAL OBSTRUCTIONS TO GETTING A PhD IN
Yes. Inability to use words accurately and failure to write what
you actually think (in place of the abstract academic jargon, or
pseudo science, that you may think the examiner wants to read)
are perhaps the main obstructions.
One remedy is to ask someone what he or she means by each and
every phrase and sentence. Submitting one or two short writings
to such rigorous detailed questioning can greatly improve the
quality of one's writing. What would it do to this?
d. HOW SHOULD DESIGNERS COPE WITH THE ACADEMIC VIEWPOINT 'WHAT
YOU CAN'T PROVE ISN'T TRUE'?
They should resist or ignore this view. I belie that what you
can prove is bound to be secondary, sometimes trivial. What is
really worth doing, what can make a real difference to life, is
immeasurable (scientifically). It is a mater of life and death.
I think it is a mistake to put rational measurement first in a
PhD in art or design. The primary consideration must be
intuitive, supported by reason but not outlawed by it. This view
has to be defended continually for there is no proof to sustain
e. HOW SHOULD THEY COPE WITH THE MENTALITY 'WHAT YOU PROVE ISN'T
Of course it isn't real, designing is the creation of what
becomes real by the deconstruction of something else. To me
truth and reality are constructions.
3. FIELDS OF RESEARCH
a. WHAT MIGHT BE INTERESTING AREAS FOR DESIGNERS TO DO A PHD IN?
Choosing one's area of research is a, or even the, primary
creative act. If the researcher cannot do it well he or she may
be unfit as yet to be doing research. (Your choice of this topic
for your own PhD is I think quite inspired. Look how it's
b. WHAT ARE THE RELEVANT TOPICS FOR THE DESIGN PROFESSION?
There are many but I think it is dampening and discouraging to
list them. Utilitarianism (doing things for their results not
for the sake of doing them) is to be fought off at every turn!
c. WHAT TOPICS RELATED WITH DESIGN EDUCATION - ON DIFFERENT
LEVELS - NEED TO BE RESEARCHED MOST URGENTLY?
There is nothing urgent about work of good quality. Life will go
on. The research should be undertaken for the sake of doing it,
for the joy of good work, for curiosity, for interest. These are
the traditional virtues in the academic study of any subject, or
indeed in any activity.
d. CAN A PRIORITY LIST OF PHD RESEARCH TOPICS BE SET? WHAT
CRITERIA ARE USED TO SET UP THIS PRIORITY LIST?
Only robots need to be given lists of aims and topics. People
should be free to act on vague hunches that they cannot
rationally justify - except by taking the risk to do the work
and see what emerges - perhaps nothing. Research that 'fails' to
get results can nevertheless be valuable and deserve a PhD if
done modestly and well. Asking people to define the goals and to
predict the results of research is to cripple imagination and
to rule out the unexpected. The sponsors and the assessors
should take this risk themselves not burden the students with
their own fears.
4. SUPERVISION OF DESIGN RESEARCH
a. WHERE CAN DESIGNERS DO PhD RESEARCH STUDIES?
Too many colleges are encouraging people who are not capable of
good research to do it under conditions of supervision and
assessment that do not suit art or design. I am thinking of
colleges of technology in which art and design departments are
expected to do research to the utilitarian and materialistic
criteria research committees of engineers. This is a dreadful
mistake. It's the engineers who should change their criteria
if life is to be lived with economic or artistic courage and
b. WHAT CRITERIA CAN BE RECOMMENDED TO DESIGNERS IN CHOOSING A
Don't put your PhD at the mercy of an art or design college that
is controlled by non-artists and non-designers. I think that
people who have not themselves done work of artistic or
designerly quality should not be admitted to research committees
for art or design.
c. WHAT SHOULD THEY DO TO GET IN THE SYSTEM? WHAT ARE THE
Just do some good work on your own and let it speak for itself.
d. HOW SHOULD DESIGNERS SELECT A SUPERVISOR?
Matching students and supervisors is best done by personal
preference and friendship and mutual respect. A system that
prevents this happening is wrong. Personal bias and subjectivity
are essential ingredients in art, in design, and in life also!
e. HOW WOULD DESIGNERS WORK WITH A SUPERVISOR?
Very well, if they respect and trust each other. Otherwise not.
(I'm sorry this is becoming so dogmatic but it's what I think.)
f. HOW SHOULD RESEARCH STUDENTS BE SUPERVISED?
With tact and respect, by seeking rapid progress in the early
stages, with frequent drafts of the final report (or bird's eye
view) and constantly calling people to work at more than one
scale of abstraction or practicality (so that theory influences
practice, and practice influences theory).
g. WHAT INFRASTRUCTURE IS NEEDED TO CONDUCT DESIGN RESEARCH?
Not too much time. Plenty of freedom. A good creative social
climate in which you can say what you like. Plenty of
well-organised encouragement and only a very limited amount of
negative criticism. Mutual trust. Accept passion and some
craziness in both supervisors and students and insist on
humanity and some artistic experience even in the
administration. Accept some passengers for the sake of being
able to give the freedom that can attract the most talented and
End of sermon. Time for laughter.
(I still remember a famous architectural college where they
passed a bottle of brandy round both teachers and students at a
presentation of post-graduate work. A philosopher is not
necessarily a puritan!)
(c) 1997 john chris jones. You may communicate this text to
anyone for any non-commercial purpose if you include the
copyright line and this sentence.
ANNOUNCEMENTS & CALLS FOR PAPERS
* The DESIGN JOURNAL - announcement of publication and call
for papers An international refereed journal for all aspects
of design practice, theory, management and education, to be
published by GOWER, in co-operation with the European Academy
of Design, and with an editorial board comprising educators
and practitioners drawn from many design disciplines across
Europe, the United States of America, and Australia. Launch
Issue - November 1997.
The DESIGN JOURNAL provides an international forum for all
design professionals, researchers, educators and managers. It
exists to publish work which will have a direct impact on
design knowledge and practice, which is thought provoking,
and which challenges established assumptions and methods. It
is published three times a year, with the aim of encouraging
discussion across traditional boundaries between practice and
theory, and between disciplines defined by working media,
materials and areas of application. The editorial team aims
to be truly eclectic in its selection of source material, and
open minded about the evolving role of design in commercial
and cultural contexts.
Papers for refereeing should be sent to the Editorial Chair:
Rachel Cooper Research Institue for Design, Manufacture and
Marketing University of Salford The Centenary Building Peru
Street Salford M3 6EQ UK
tel 44 (0) 161 295 6146 fax 44 (0) 161 295 6103 e
Comment, books for review, other articles for consideration
should be sent to the Executive Editor:
Jack Ingram Centre for Design Engineering Studies Faculty of
Art, Design & Engineering University of Wales Institute,
Cardiff Western Avenue Cardiff CF5 2YB UK
tel 44 (0) 1222 506661 fax 44 (0) 1222 506645 e
Subscription details from:
Elaine Winter Gower Publishing Limited Gower House Croft Road
Aldershot Hampshire GU11 3HR UK tel: 44 (0) 1252
331551 fax: 44 (0) 1252 344405 e- firstname.lastname@example.org
* 3 December 1997: Virtual Environment Design: has Virtual
Reality technology now matured to be a designer's tool? A
DRS event at the Institute of Design, Teesside University.
This will cover a range of discipline areas and a range of VR
technology from the very expensive VR cinema immersive
experience to VRML on the Web. For details, contact:
Janice Webster <J.Webster@tees.ac.uk>
* 22-25 July 1998: THIRD ANNUAL GENETIC PROGRAMMING
CONFERENCE (GP-98), University of Wisconsin - Madison,
Wisconsin <www.genetic-programming.org> CALL FOR PAPERS AND
PARTICIPATION GENERAL INFORMATION: Genetic programming is an
automatic programming technique for evolving computer
programs that solve (or approximately solve) problems. Over
800 technical papers have been published since 1992 in this
rapidly growing field. Topics include, but are not limited
to, applications of genetic programming, theoretical
foundations of genetic programming, implementation issues,
technique extensions, use of memory and state, cellular
encoding (developmental genetic programming), evolvable
hardware, evolvable machine language programs, automated
evolution of program architecture, evolution and use of
mental models, automatic programming of multi-agent
strategies, distributed artificial intelligence, automated
circuit synthesis, automatic programming of cellular
automata, induction, system identification, control,
automated design, compression, image analysis, pattern
recognition, molecular biology applications, grammar
induction, and parallelization. FOR MORE INFORMATION see the
GP-98 WWW home page at <www.genetic- programming.org> For
administrative matters, e-mail to email@example.com. For technical
matters, e-mail to John Koza at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
* S P E E D - AN ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY,
MEDIA AND SOCIETY is preparing several themed issues.
<http://www.arts.ucsb.edu/~speed> or email:
* 25-27 March 1998: BITE (Bringing Information Technology
to Education) is organising an international conference
entitled Integrating Information and Communication Technology
in Higher Education, to take place in Maastricht, the
Netherlands. The conference will focus on four topics: -
institutional strategies; - educational innovation; - new
tools and applications; - organisational issues.
The programme will include 30-minute paper presentations,
1-hour presentations in conjunction with a demonstration,
workshops, poster sessions and an exhibition of applications
The programme committee is inviting submissions of abstracts
for the presentations/demonstrations which may include
reports of research, descriptions of 'good practice',
discussion of relevant experiences, and details of problems
encountered and overcome. The deadline for receipt is October
For more information please contact the Conference
Secretariat Hannie Spronck, Department of Educational
Development and Research/ELECTRA, PO Box 616, 6200 MD
Maastricht, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 43 3882526 Fax: +31
43 3252930 Email: email@example.com
* Manchester Metropolitan University Department of
Mechanical Engineering, Design & Manufacture University of
Surrey - Centre for Environmental Strategy. Short course,
15-17 October 1997, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.
Design for Environment - Managing Change in Product
Development. This course will explain the principles and
demonstrate the practice of life cycle thinking and Design
for environment in product development and management.
Day 1 Environmental strategies for business; why Design for
Environment (DfE)? Pressures for DfE and the industry
response Design forEnvironment principles and practice
Applied life cycle assessment Hands-on exercise on life cycle
design Evaluating the options:materials selection, clean
processes, energy use, end-of-life options, durability and
Day 2 Streamlined LCA and matrix methods Examples of product
LCAs LCA hands-on exercise Limitations of LCA Other product
assessment methods: guidelines, checklists and metrics DfE
product improvement workshop
Day 3 DfE management Industrial case studies: Mercury,
Nortel, Hewlett-Packard, Rank Xerox Panel discussion on DfE
with industrial speakers
Course fees: stlg585.00. For further information and
registrations contact: Course Administrator, CES, University
of Surrey, Guildford, GU2 5XH tel. +44-(0)1483-259047, fax
259384, email <J.Libaert@surrey.ac.uk>
* See the August newsletter for previous details
CYBER NEWS: snippets from the networks
* 'Design Builder' has been produced by the IDER group as
an interactive, multimedia based teaching aid for engineering
design and concurrent engineering (as part of HEFCE's TLTP
initiative). It is especially useful for introducing first
and second year students to the principles of multi
disciplinary design and working in a concurrent design
environment. Students design a product in an interactive
manner via a three step design process - specification
development, concept design and detail design. The software
is distributable on CD ROM and evaluation editions are
available on a 30 day sale or return basis from :- Brian
Parkinson, Senior Lecturer, Manufacturing Systems Centre,
University Of Hertfordshire, Hatfield. AL10 9AB Tel 01707
284227. Alternately, order the evaluation edition through
our online ordering system at :-
details of Design Builder are available at :-
* OUT NOW! Convergence: The Journal of Research into New
Media Technologies, Summer 1997, Volume 3, Number 2 MACHINIC
THEORY: SPECIAL ISSUE ON THOUGHT AND TECHNOLOGY Convergence
is a paper journal. For further information and details of
back issues see our web site at
* Conall O Cathain says here's something else to check out:
<http://www.inventionmachine.inter.net> and to have a look
around, particularly at the examples.
* The MultiMedia lab at Vytautas Magnus University,
Lithuania, is looking for like minded people, who are
interested in multimedia, distance education, interactive
animation and video, research in multimedia, so visit:
* The 2nd On-line World Conference on Soft Computing in
Engineering Design and Manufacturing, happened on 23-27 June
1997. Information can be found on the World-Wide Web on the
following WSC2 Servers: <http://www.zen.co.uk/cim.inst/wsc2>
<http://www.bioele.nuee.nagoya-u.ac.jp/wsc2> The previous
event, WSC1 hosted by Nagoya University, Japan in August 1996
can be visited at:
* The Windows 95 Interface Guidelines may be found at:
Mac fanatics can have a laugh.
* Two EPSRC-funded Research Associates are sought from
October 1997 to work with various industrial collaborators
studying interdisciplinary design in the construction
industry. Post 1 is a one-year appointment to study Teamwork
in Design. Post 2 is a two-year appointment to focus on
Mapping the Conceptual Phase of Design. It is expected that
applicants will have a background in management, psychology,
architectural or engineering design, or another relevant
discipline. Salary will be up to 17,000 p.a. depending on age
and qualifications. Part-time appointments may be considered.
Closing date for applications: 31 August 1997. Interviews
will be held in September. For further details please
contact: Christine Woodhouse The Martin Centre for
Architectural and Urban Studies University of Cambridge
Department of Architecture 6 Chaucer Road CAMBRIDGE, CB2 2EB
telephone 01223 331700, fax 01223 331701, email
* Formdiskurs / Zeitschrift fuer Design und Theorie /
Journal of Design and Design Theory 3, II/1997. Verlag form
gmbh, Hanauer Landstrasse 161, D - 60314 Frankfurt a.M. Fon:
069 - 94 33 25 0 Fax: 069 - 94 33 25 25 e-mail:
* The Plastic Bag Association at <http://www.PlasticBag.com>
(thanks to IDFORUM).
* The SIGCHI Bulletin. Interesting on-line journal
relevant to human factors design issues
<http://www.acm.org/sigchi/bulletin> (thanks to Ken Friedman)
* TRIZ On one level, TRIZ is a Russian acronym meaning
Theory of the Solution of Inventive Problems. Genrikh
Altschuller discovered and developed a body of principles and
knowledge that lays out a process for solving extremely
difficult (i.e., inventive) problems, and he named it TRIZ.
On an even higher level of importance, the practice of TRIZ
leads to the rapid invention of next-generation products and
processes. The process is capable of solving problems
hitherto believed to be unsolvable. For copies of the TRIZ
journal, goto <http://www.triz-journal.com/index.html>
(thanks to Conall o Cathain for alerting me to this one)
* ADAM: <http://adam.ac.uk> (The Art, Design,
Architecture & Media Information Gateway is funded by JISC as
part of its Electronic Libraries Programme.) There have been
a number of changes and improvements to the ADAM system. A
prototype Browse Tree can be found at
Following a lengthy procurement process, ADAM has finally
awarded the London-based System Simulation Limited the
contract for the supply and support of the new ADAM networked
information discovery & retrieval system.
ADAM SoR: http://adam.ac.uk/adam/tech/adam-sor.html ADAM OR:
<http://adam.ac.uk/adam/tech/adam-or.html> AHDS OR:
Cross-domain search engine:
ADAM recently launched the 'Friends of ADAM' scheme, which
will comprise a network of trusted volunteers to assist in
the development of the service. The Friends will assist in a
number of ways. If you are interested in becoming a Friend
of ADAM, please visit the on-line registration page, e-mail
us at <firstname.lastname@example.org> or call on 01252 722441.
* Professor Gary Moore, co-founder in 1966 of the Design
Methods Group in North America and editor of its first
publications, has accepted a new position as professor and
dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of
Sydney in Australia. The Faculty has four departments
including departments of Architecture, Architectural and
Design Science, Urban and Regional Planning, and The Art
Workshop (aka fine arts). It has advanced research-oriented
post-graduate programs (diplomas, masters, and Ph.D.) in a
wide variety of subdisciplines including design science,
design computing, building science, urban planning, urban
design, environment-behaviour studies, historic preservation,
housing, and history and theory of architecture. Professor
Moore will be assuming his post full-time on 1 January 1998,
and part-time starting 18 August of this year.
* Following a UK radio 4 broadcast earlier this year, which
contained a discussion on the concept of the Learning
Organisation, a variety of different events are planned in
the 4th quarter of this year. Details from Mike Kelleher
general secretary <email@example.com>.
* And finally, the most incredible site at
<http://www.standards.org.au/ada/default.htm>. This site is
the Australian Design Awards. Thanks to Peter Black for
pointing this out on IDFORUM.
DESIGN RESEARCH SOCIETY
The Design Research Society was established in 1967, reflecting a
belief among academics and professionals from different design
communities that the essence of the activity called design was
common to many disciplines.
The Society has facilitated an international design research
network in 28 countries comprising members who maintain contact
through the publications and activities of the Society. Members
are drawn from diverse backgrounds, not only from the traditional
areas of design, ranging from fine art to engineering, but also
from subjects like psychology and computer science.
The goals of the Society are to:
o promote communication across the boundaries of all design
o provide a forum to exchange and communicate ideas,
experience and research findings
o promote the improvement of practical design performance in
all its aspects
o contribute to the development of a coherent body of
scholarship and knowledge in design
Membership is open to individuals and costs only UK pounds 15 per
year. Members are entitled to the following:
o Newsletter of the Society
o Reduced rate subscription to the journal 'Design Studies',
published in association with the Society by Elsevier-
o Occasional mailings to members
o Invitations and reduced admission charges to seminars and
conferences organised by the Society
For further details and an application form, contact the
Dr. Robert Jerrard
School of Design Research
Birmingham Institute of Art and Design
University of Central England
tel: +44 (0)121 331 5836 fax: +44 (0)121 333 5569
THE DESIGN-RESEARCH ARCHIVES
Further information about the Design Research Society can be
found at: <http://www.mailbase.ac.uk/lists-a-e/design-research>
DRS_NEWS can also be found here, listed as 'hypermail', by month.
Also mirrored at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and
Technology (KAIST): <http://caid4u.kaist.ac.kr>
The Design Research Society also operates two email distribution
lists. One distributes this electronic newsletter. The other
list is for open discussion of design research matters.
To have monthly copies of DRS_NEWS emailed to you automatically,
it is necessary to subscribe to the 'Design-Research' mailing
Send an email message to:
(leave the 'subject' line blank ie. press 'return')
Type a message which reads:
JOIN DESIGN-RESEARCH yourFirstName yourLastName
DISCUSSION OF DESIGN RESEARCH
To monitor and/or join discussions on design research emailed to
you automatically it is necessary to subscribe to the 'DRS'
Send an email message to:
(leave the 'subject' line blank ie. press 'return')
Type a message which reads:
JOIN DRS yourFirstName yourLastName
...and finally - for inclusion in future DRS_NEWS please send any
contributions to the editor either by email (preferred) or on
floppy disk (Apple Mac or PC) as a plain text file - no paper
o notices of forthcoming events, calls for papers etc.
o articles or position papers
o synopses of current research projects
o reviews of books and CD-ROMs
o or just your thoughts on research matters
Send to DRS_NEWS editor:
Dr. David Durling, Director of Research & Enterprise, School of
Art & Design, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 2XN,
tel: +44(0)1782 294556 [direct, 24 hr.] fax: +44(0)1782 294873