Beyond Design Conference

Student led event, June 2017


On Thursday 8th of June, the Beyond Design conference was held at the LCF Rootstein Hopkins Suite, University of the Arts London. The event was launched by three LDoc PhD researchers as they wanted to highlight that design research is increasingly taking place in cross-disciplinary collaboration. The LDoc PhD student cohort exemplifies this, as each PhD design researcher is engaged in initiatives with multiple sectors.


Miriam Ribul (CCW, UAL), Paola Pierri (LCC, UAL) and Victoria Geaney (RCA) curated the event to encompass a line up of speakers that would resonate with the various disciplines that design researchers are collaborating with.


Adam Drazin, lecturer and course coordinator from the MA Material Anthropology Design course at UCL and co-editor of the book ‘The Social Life of Materials’, provided deep insights into the research of anthropologists and where these link with design through compelling examples of research conducted with industry.


Professor Rob Kesseler, Professor at Central Saint Martins and Chair in Arts, Design & Science at the University of the Arts London, gave insight into how designers can visualise the work of scientists and into how collaborations can lead to funding and spark new ideas.


Dr Alison Prendiville, Reader in Designing for Service at UAL, explored the object of design in service design, where outcomes are not always objects, however processes to lead people to formulate thinking and innovations.


And last but not least, Dr Claire Pajaczkowska from the RCA had key insights for practice-led design researchers, tacit knowledge and how design and art are specifically different to other disciplines through creative practice and subjectivity.


The talks, chaired by Dr Catherine Dormor, were followed by a lively panel discussion with questions from the audience. Some of the themes discussed were places of production, such as labs and workshops; how uncertainty exists in the creative and scientific process; and how design can make the abstract graspable.


Following the talks, a workshop in the afternoon was facilitated by Dr Alison Prendiville and ourselves to generate more in-depth discussions about types of collaborations, the sectors we are working in, the challenges and opportunities. Each group had the opportunity to share, reflect and visualise their research. We have found many common themes that reflect on the designer’s role across all sectors. The results will feed into a small publication to inspire and inform designers initiating new cross-disciplinary research. The event was attended by over 50 attendees from UK based research institutions and initiated many conversations to share and reflect on research beyond design.