DDR4: Summary of the Day by Alec Robertson, Event Originator and Co-convenor.


The Day proved very successful. Around eighty participants, including some from as far away as Japan, Australia and Canada, engaged in discussion, networking, dining and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It was a constructive bridge-building day within the design research community and outside with the design practitioner community. Multimedia proceedings will be available in due course.

The Panellists were joined by the Chief Executive Officer of the UK Chartered Society of Designers, Frank Peters, and also Denis O’Brien of a creativity consultancy - Ringi Ltd, after Paula Neal of product designers PDD could not make it on the day. The planned webcast trial had unfortunately to be cancelled at the last moment, when the audio conditions of the Lecture Theatre could not produce a quality feed to the computer server. This is simpler in the controlled environment of a Radio Studio, but with roving microphones etc. this proved too unreliable. Apologies to any Australians and others who got out of bed to listen in.

The Afternoon Event had the atmosphere of an Athenian debate combined with the social buzz of an English Pub. The Evening Event comprised Awards, emotional speeches, fine wine and food accompanied by Jazz Pianist - Esther Williams, with double bass player. What style!

Question Session Event
The Day was introduced by the convenors, Alec Robertson and Diana Brown, followed by a Note from Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, Patron of the RCA Society and RCA Rector, and read by RCA Society Chair – Peter Town. The Question Session was then started by the DRS President – Professor Richard Buchanan of Carnegie Mellon University, who was Host for the Day. A selection of questions were put to the Panellists and opened up for audience discussion. These started with ‘Do we need to revisit the early work from the design research community? put by Professor Alan Bridges of Strathclyde University, Scotland. It resulted in David Durling inviting people to participate in a Research Bid to establish an archive of seminal works. The Session ended with the question ‘Is there a need for more research into aesthetics? by Lief Ostman of the Swedish Polytechnic, Finland. Panel Chair, Alec Robertson closed the discussion, commenting this could be one topic that might draw the communities more together. Richard Buchanan as Host in his summing added ‘Ethics’ to ‘Aesthetics’. He remarked too that we should celebrate the uniqueness of designing as a process, and contended it is a new way of organising knowledge itself, and that we are at the beginning of a new era. On this high note, the Afternoon Question Session Event led into the DRS OGM, where the Constitution was updated, and for non-members there was a reception in the RCA Senior Common Room surrounded by valuable Art, including the bright yellow parts of a Dyson Cyclone vacuum cleaner mounted on one wall.

The Evening Dinner Event
The Evening Dinner Event had an inspiring Talk by Professor Richard Buchanan. A Design Studies Award was made to Professor Rivka Oxman of Israel, and a DRS Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to John Chris Jones, who was co-convenor of the 1962 Design Methods Conference that led to the formation of the DRS. Emeritus Professor L Bruce Archer of the former Department of Design Research at the RCA received a DRS Lifetime Achievement Award too, for amongst other things, disseminating ideas of design research around the world through his graduates.

What a good sign for the future when designer-artists, professional design practitioners and the variety of design researchers from design, science and humanities research communities can engage with good humour in such a constructive Day together.

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