Design Research Failures was originally spurred by the DRS 50th Anniversary call for projects that “furthers our understanding of the origins of design research as well as the role and contribution the DRS has played in its development”. As the longest established, multi-disciplinary worldwide society for the design research community, the anniversary of the society seemed like a timely, appropriate moment to reflect on what design research has achieved, and as part of this, how it has failed.
50 years is half a century. In a sense it’s a crossroad, where we (design researchers) look simultaneously towards the past and the future. As a critical, constructive hinge between past and future, the following question was put forward to a range of different design scholars affiliated to the DRS in various ways:
In what way has Design Research failed in the last 50 years?
As a result of this enquiry, 26 responses (each max 100 words) were produced and designed for DRS2016. We hoped these initial responses would act as a catalyst for further reflection at the conference, as we put together a physical exhibit where conference participants were encouraged to hang their own answers to the central question.
The response and reception during DRS2016 (both at the conference and online) was overwhelming and we were pleased to see so many participants sharing their thoughts. At this point it has become clear that there is a need for this discussion beyond DRS2016. As an example, some of the responses explicitly mention the disconnect between academia and industry as a failure of the larger field. In this way, one of the key objectives for this site is to continue to facilitate a dialogue across the discipline of design research in its entirety.
Addressing failures in this manner is not about reflecting on “why didn’t we” but instead taking a shortcut towards “why don’t we”. In this sense Design Research Failures is ultimately about anticipating and co-creating the future of the design discipline.