Design research: Zoom out – Zoom in

The end of November was quite a busy time. First I travelled all the way to Covilhã, a small city in the North of Portugal to attend and present my research work at the DESIGNA Conference organised by the Universidade da Beira Interior. This design conference invited art and design researchers and students to present their work having at the central point the idea introduced for Tomás Maldonado about ‘The Projectual Hope.’ Maldonado’s work emphases the rational and scientific side of design, understanding the design process as a systematic methodology. During the conference, the lectures tackled a wide range of approaches and theories to design research, explaining the current role of design, and its relationship with society as well as its changes over time. Overall, the conference was a very intense and interesting 2-day experience, which gave an overview of current design research projects from different design disciplines, such as product, fashion and graphic design.

Universidade da Beira Interior – Covilhã, Portugal

Then, I flew to Weimar (technically I flew to Berlin first), Germany to attend to another conference. The Practice-Based Research in Art & Design (PBR in A&D) Conference at the Bauhaus-University Weimar presented ongoing and completed PhD research projects combined with lectures and workshops from the art and design fields. One of the keynote speakers was Klaus Krippendorff, who has vastly written about design research and the need to bridge theory and practice by conducting practice-led or based investigations. Another interesting fact to point out is that the conference was mostly organised for the students of the PhD programme at that University in order to learn and exchange information about other PhD programmes structures, tools, techniques, and theoretical frameworks. I was surprised to know that design research is a relatively new discipline in Germany, and that the Bauhaus University was the only one, which offers a 3-year doctoral programme. During the three days the emphasis was mostly on the methodological strategies and methods use in different art and design research project. In addition, different models for practice-led and based research, and the definition of their boundaries were also key elements of discussion.

Bauhaus University – Weimar, Germany

On the one hand, the DESIGNA conference offered a broad picture of design research in which most lectures approached design form different aspects, including a wide range of research projects. On the other hand, the PBR in A&D conference presented a more narrow view of the same subject (design research), particularly focusing on projects which could give new methodological and practice-led and based research techniques insights.

I would like to personally thank the organising committees of both DESIGNA and PBR in A&D conferences for giving me the opportunity to present my work and learn from the many (art and) design research projects which are being conducted at different universities all around Europe. In addition, I loved the experience of getting to know the building of the Bauhaus School, as I would always be full of admiration of the work done during the three stages of the school, and its constant influence on the design discipline.

Looking forward to next year editions!

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