Predicting the Future Through Academic Design Research

Author:
Dr. Mark Evans
Company/School:
Loughborough University, UK

Dr. Mark Evans
Loughborough University, UK

 

1.     contributing to practice and education

As a relatively new field of scholarship, design research now confidently defines itself through distinctive academic journals, conferences and associations/societies. However, there is a tendency for the outcomes of academic design research to focus on academic endeavor, such as ways to support teaching and theoretical approaches to designing and design knowledge. This paper explores an alternative position in which the outcomes are extended beyond the academy by making direct contributions to design practice, design guidelines and design regulation. Whilst academic outputs inevitably result in journal publication, the most significant impact of the case studies discussed in the paper can best be described as 'non-academic' as embodied through: a high visibility livery for emergency vehicles that has been adopted in the UK and beyond (design guidelines); an approach for Digital Industrial Design (DiD) (design practice); a globally distributed design tool to facilitate understanding and collaboration by standardizing the language used for design representations (design practice); and revisions to a United Nations regulation to increase cyclist visibility when using the rear view mirrors on large goods vehicles (design regulation).The paper concludes that the rigor, specialist in-depth knowledge and ability to view real-world problems with a fresh pair of eyes enables academic design research to have significant and far-reaching impact beyond academia.

2.     DIGITAL INDUSTRIAL DESIGN (DID) – A WEB-BASED RESOURCE FOR ENTIRELY DIGITAL MODELLING METHODS

A key contribution of academic research to design practice is in the impartial evaluation of new methods and approaches that have the potential to disrupt existing practice and identify opportunities for paradigm shift. The competitive and closed nature of professional practice also means that it has a natural tendency to evolve without open reflection and academic research can make a significant contribution to exploring the potential for change. Academic research has a history of reporting on the emergence of individual design technologies and their potential to impact on practice. There is therefore an inherent value in the contextualization of activities that must ...read more.