Work in progress

Design Research Seminar
Conference EnsAD Report

Talk presentation

EnsadLab/ Sociable Media conducted a seminar on design & research, proposed by Remy Bourganel, given by Jean-Baptiste Labrune, Ioana Ocnarescu with Pauline Gourlet, Jeremie Lasnier, Emeline Brulé, Max Mollon, Jeremy Boy (leader of the TimeLine Project), Ferdinand Dervieux & Louis Eveillard (Leaders of the Cartography project).


Throughout this seminar, we intended to contribute to the definition of design research, its practice and its means. This work in progress is delivered under an open source format, calling for contributions and improvements.

The first results of this work have been subject to a presentation at EnsAD in front of the key representatives of the french design research community. This presentation aimed at sharing the resources we collected about design & research – and more specifically about interaction design research – and to propose a synthesis.

We have relied on 18 academic papers to propose an understanding of design research and to submit a definition (see more in the slides).


The definition

La Recherche en Design a pour vocation de produire, décrire, évaluer et valoriser systématiquement les concepts, artefacts et expériences générés au cours d’un processus de conception et de création à visée économique, critique ou socio-culturelle.

Design Research aims at producing, describing, evaluating and publishing, in a systematic way, the concepts, artifacts and experiences created through a conception process addressing an economic, critical or cultural proposal.


Feel free to participate and comment the definition by following this link


A collaborative work in progress

This initiative is a work in progress in which we would like to engage the design research community to contribute. To do so, we developed two first collaborative toolsa mapping and a timeline – and published our course where our resources can be found, including design conferences, design journals, methodologies, etc.



Topics for debate

This presentation has led to a rich discussion.
Here is a transcription of some of the questions raised after the presentation.

Aren’t the 10 principles to come aiming at guiding the design research practice a proposal based on the master model criticised earlier in the presentation?

This is not our intention as it will be opened for everyone to improve.

The term ‘through design’ tends to separate art and design, and tends to disconnect from the practice based research. Where is the practice in the definition?
We are focused on research through design which is different from art, although both share the approach of research through practice. The design research community explicitly denies an art based practice. (Design Research Through Practice: From the Lab, Field, and Showroom , Ilpo Koskinen, John Zimmerman , Thomas Binder, Johan Redstrom, Stephan Wensveen, Morgan Kaufmann publisher, 2011). The definition covers all practices related to design research including critical works such as the one of Paola Antonelli.

Why is the cartography about France only?

This is just the starting point. Therefore we would like to engage others to contribute to build the rest of this actor’s map with us.

What research through design could adapt from other fields methodologies and more particularly from engineering science ?

The culture of prototypes evaluation is a great inspiration for research through design. However, we can not simply duplicate these methods, design research has its own specificity and culture that have to be qualified. Would the abduction reasoning be the main feature of that specificity ?

We would like to point out interventions from Alain Findeli:
Through/for/about design are not in the same epistemological fields. A research through design, about design and for design at the same time is required. To quote one of his paper : “Available literature is currently overabundant on these topics.[…] [Project Research] also called “practice-based research”, “practice research”, “action research in design”, “clinical research”, or “project-grounded research” as we do, it still struggles for methodological soundness and scientific recognition. The relative dispersion of the semantic space indicates that interpretations of the idea and principles of research through design may diverge and that no real consensus has been arrived at yet”.

(Findeli, A., Brouillet, D., Martin, S., Moineau, C., & Tarrago, R. (2008). Research Through Design and Transdisciplinarity: A Tentative Contribution to the Methodology of Design Research (pp. 1–13). Presented at the Proceedings of the Swiss Design Network Symposium, Berne, Switzerland.)

Capture d’écran 2014-05-09 à 16.42.07source
The Complex Field of Research: for Design, through Design, and about Design Lois Frankel, Martin Racine, DRS 2010 PDF

Alain Findeli concluded the discussion by pointing out that we intended to talk about design research and we ended up talking about design, a sliding movement he often observes.
“The question is to know how design research can bring a new understanding of the world, different from those proposed by other academic fields.”




More info here:
Work in progress blog
Timeline & Cartography projects
More photos
Talk presentation video