Design Research and the New Learning

Buchanan, Richard
Design Issues

The theme of this conference is how we shape and sustain design research programs in our institutions. It is an important theme, and the conference is timely. Despite a growing body of research and published results, there is uncertainty about the value of design
research, the nature of design research, the institutional framework within which such research should be supported and evaluated, and who should conduct it. In short, there is uncertainty about whether there is such a thing as design knowledge that merits serious attention. My goal is to address these questions from a personal perspective, recognizing that my individual views may be less important for the goals of the conference than how my views reflect,
in subtle or obvious ways, the North American social, cultural, and intellectual environment within which they have formed. The conference is about design research in the United Kingdom, and my role is to provide a contrasting perspective at the outset that may
help us understand some of the issues and options that are taking shape in the United Kingdom. My willingness to play this role comes from a belief that we are in the middle of a revolution in design thinking and that events in the United Kingdom, while strongly influenced by issues of national policy, reflect changes in the field of design in many other parts of the world.