Design Research Society Special Interest Groups

Full papers can be submitted to any of the following DRS Special Interest Groups as part of the Call for Participation.  Each SIG has put together a theme description for DRS2016 and will be managed independently.  If you would like further details about any of the SIGs then please contact the appropriate DRS2016 SIG Sub-Chair by clicking on their name.  Below is a summary of the Special Interest Groups that you will see as you scroll down.

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9. Experiential Knowledge

1. Objects, Practices, Experiences, Networks 

2. Design for Health, Wellbeing and Happiness 

3. Design for Tangible, Embedded and Networked Technologies

4. Design Pedagogy

5. Inclusive Design



TOM FISHER, nottingham trent university, uk
LORRAINE GAMMAN, university of the arts, london


Naomi Braithwaite, Nottingham Trent University
Giuseppe Salvia, Politecnico di Milano
Michael Hohl, Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Dessau
Sarah Kettley, Nottingham Trent University

OPENSiG has been in existence for nearly ten years and and DRS 2016 provides an opportunity to review progress to date.  Its stated purpose is:

“To facilitate engagement with recent work that has emerged in non-design disciplines over recent years, which is relevant to design and in which the term ‘design’ is used. [drawing on and feeding into] work in Design Practice, HCI, Science and Technology Studies, Art Practice, work on Material Culture in Geography, Archaeology and Anthropology and Sociology, Art History, Design History and the Philosophy of Technology." 

For DRS2016 we ask how we can understand and reconcile the interventions that design can make with matters of ethics. The ethical dimension of design points to OPENSiG’s longstanding concern with the relationships that design implies:

  • between designing and norms, expectations of right conduct
  • between designing and political formations, local and global
  • and designing as the gathering of relationships in ‘things’ - material, immaterial, actual and fictional

The OPENSiG strand at DRS2016 invites contributions that emphasise the connections between all varieties of Designings and other practices that seek to understand, and change for the better, the human-made world and human relationships in it. Putting priority on human relationships, the theme will also include a workshop led by Prof. Lorraine Gamman that focuses on design for empathy.


Fry, T. (2011) Design as Politics, Berg.

Kimbell, L. (2011) ‘Rethinking Design Thinking’, Design and Culture,  Volume 3.

Latour, B. (2005) Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory, OUP.

Shove, E. (2007) The Design of Everyday Life, Berg.

Verbeek, P.P. (2012) Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things, University of Chicago Press

2. Design for Health, Wellbeing and Happiness (SIGWELL)

SUB-CHAIR: Rebecca Cain, University of Warwick, uK


Noemi Bitterman, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
Geke Ludden, University of Twente, The Netherlands
Jamie Mackrill, Imperial College London, UK
Elif Ozcan, TU Delft, The Netherlands
Ann Petermans, Hasselt University, Belgium
Carolina Escobar-Tello, Loughborough University, UK

DRS2016 Theme: Designing healthier and happier futures for all

There is an increasing body of research exploring the influence of design on health and wellbeing and other states such as happiness and wisdom. For DRS2016 we look at the role that design can play within a broader societal context of keeping people well, and therefore happy (going beyond the medical application of purely treating illness).  Contributions are invited which demonstrate design research from across the broad landscape of products, services, systems and environments and their associated disciplines, which link to design for health, wellbeing, happiness and wisdom.  This may include (but is not limited to):  

  • Evidence-based design- links between the objective and subjective conditions that influence health/wellbeing for products, services, systems and environments;
  • The use of design to specifically support mental health and wellbeing in society;
  • The design of technology to improve personal health, wellbeing and happiness and capturing the evidence for technology acceptance;
  • The two-way exchange of design knowledge into health and wellbeing research, and health and wellbeing knowledge into design research;
  • The use of design to help people deal with extreme emotional experiences during critical situations and life events and using the design of products to trigger reflective processes for people to better cope with criticality.
  • Methods and new ways to involve people in design for health, wellbeing, happiness and wisdom, and the associated challenges of working with people who may be in a vulnerable state.

Twitter: #drssigwell

Indicative References

Baltes, P.B., & Smith, J. (2008). The fascination of wisdom: Its nature, ontogeny, and function. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 56–64.

Birren, J.E., & Fisher, L.M. (1990). The elements of wisdom: Overview and integration. In: Sternberg, R.J. (ed.) Wisdom: Its nature, origins, and development. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Burton, E., Mitchell, L. and Stride, C. (2011) Good places for ageing in place: development of objective built environment measures for investigating links with older people’s wellbeing. BMC Public Health, 11(839).

Desmet, P.M.A., & Pohlmeyer, A.E. (2013). Positive design: An introduction to design for subjective well-being. International Journal of Design, 7(3), 5-19.

Ludden GDS, Kelders SM, Snippert BHJ. 'This Is Your Life!’: the design of a positive psychology intervention using metaphor to motivate. In: Spagnolli A, Chittaro L, Gamberini L, editors. Persuasive Technology. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing; 2014:179-190.

Payne, S., Potter, R., Cain, R (2014). Linking the physical design of healthcare environments to wellbeing indicators, Wellbeing: A complete reference guide, In Cooper, R., Burton, E., Cooper, C. (Eds), John Wiley & Sons, Chichester.

Pohlmeyer A. (2012).  Design for happiness. Interfaces 92, 8-11.

Stevens, R., Petermans, A., Vanrie, J. (2014) Converting happiness theory into (interior) architectural design missions: designing for subjective wellbeing in residential care centres, In Proceedings of the 6th Annual Architectural Research Symposium, Finland 2014: Designing and Planning the Built Environment for Human Well-Being

Ulrich, R. S. (1984). View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science, 224(4647), 420–421.



SARAH KETTLEY, nottingham trent university
ANNE CRANNY FRANCIS, university of technology, sydney


Rachel Jones, Instrata, Cambridge, UK
Ian Gwilt, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Daniela Petrelli, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Steve Gill, Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK

As part of DRS2016, TENTSIG proposes a number of discussion points around experience, relations and cognition as enabled by tangible tools in the participatory design process. As a result, we aim to contribute to the history of design artefacts in design research, and present the state-of-the-art in current tangible participatory practices.

We are interested in papers, case studies and reflections on (but not restricted to) the following themes:

  • The history of tangibility in supporting the design process
  • The types of cognition and experience supported by tangible design artefacts
  • Case studies describing the use of novel tangible systems in participatory, collaborative and service design projects
  • Reflections on the use of tangible tools for participatory design with diverse communities
  • The meaning of ‘tangible’ in the context of the design process, as informed by art, design, craft and technology
  • Poetic tangibles
  • Power relationship and the relational in participatory processes with tangible tools

This theme for DRS2016 will also include a tangible workshop and for this we invite participants to bring examples of tools, games, tangibles and artefacts to share their use and be inspired towards new forms of relational practice.


Candy, L. & Edmonds, E. (eds.) (2011) Interacting: Art, Research and the Creative Practitioner, Libri Publishing.

Ehn, P., Nilsson, E. & Topgaard, R. (2014) Making Futures: Marginal notes on innovation, design and democracy, MIT Press.

Ishii, H., Lakatos, D., Bonanni, L., & Labrune, J.B. (2012) Radical Atoms: Beyond Tangible Bits, Interactions, XIX.1, pp 38-51.

McCarthy, J. & wright, P. (2015) Taking [A]Part: the politics and aestethics of participation in experience-centred design, MIT Press.


SUB-CHAIR: MIKE TOVEY, Coventry University, UK


Linda Drew, Ravensbourne College, UK
Erik Bohemia, Loughborough University, UK
Alison Shreeve, Buckinghamshire New University, UK

DRS2016 Theme: Teaching without borders: Design Education across disciplines and outside the University

The aim of the Special Interest Group in Design Pedagogy is to bring together design researchers, teachers and practitioners, and others responsible for the delivery of design education, and to clarify and develop the role of design research in providing the theoretical underpinning for design education. These aims are not directed simply at one type of design education, but are intended to include all ages. However as the current membership of DRS is predominantly from universities inevitably there is It is quite appropriate that design academics should engage in investigations which are intended to extend our understanding and capability of the discipline. Design academics do almost all of the design research which leads to academic publications. Design practitioners get on with designing, and leave design research to the academic community. The design profession depends on the production of a stream of qualified and capable graduates from our universities and colleges. If this quality is to be maintained and enhanced it is essential that the findings of design research be applied in the development of the design curriculum and teaching approaches. Indeed these in turn warrant further research so as to ensure they develop and improve.

The scope and range of design education has increased dramatically in recent years. Design is now studied from school level to post-graduate, and both as a discipline on its own and as a way of synthesising other disciplines. It can be regarded as a subject which has an international language, and frequently design education reflects the global identity of professional design practice. To capture the essence of this dynamic identity we propose that Teaching without borders: Design Education across disciplines and outside the University be the main theme for the Design Pedagogy strand of the conference.


Shreeve, A. (2007) Learning development and study support – an embedded approach through communities of practice, Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education, 2007, Vol.6 Number 1.

Tovey, M (2015) Designerly Thinking and Creativity, in Design Pedagogy in Tovey, M. Developments in Art and Design Education, Gower.

Drew, L (2015) The Experience of Teaching a Creative Practice: An Exploration of Conceptions and Approaches to Teaching, Linking Variation and the Community of Practice, in Tovey, M. Developments in Art and Design Education, Gower.

Ghassan, A and Bohemia, E (2015) Amplifying Learners’ Voices through the Global Studio in Design Pedagogy-Developments in Art and Design Education, in Tovey, M. Developments in Art and Design Education, Gower.

5. Inclusive Design (Inclusive SIG)



Ann Heylighen, University of Leuven
Julia Cassim, Royal College of Art
Chris McGinley, Royal College of Art
Eujin Pei, Brunel University

The DRS2016 theme for the Inclusive Design SIG is inclusivity across cultures. In different cultural contexts, inclusive design research may differ in its focus, methodology and contribution to society and at DRS2016 we invite papers that explore this diversity. For example, in western countries, ‘independence’ is key when designing for ‘our future selves’ (reference 2 below), while ‘interdependency’ (reference 1 below) is more appealing for older people in India and China where family bonds are stronger. We call for submissions demonstrating diverse, localized, and innovative approaches to inclusive design and and design research. The following topics are especially welcome:

  • Inclusive design and innovation;
  • Embracing multiple senses in design;
  • Understanding human capability and potential;
  • Design meets disability;
  • Ageing and future-focused care;
  • Roles of ‘users’ in design;
  • Communicating inclusive design to designers;
  • Empathic design;
  • Inclusive design theories;
  • Methods for better engaging people in design.

Indicative References

Designing for our future selves, Special Issue of Applied Ergonomics 24 (1), 1993.

Public space: inspire, challenge and empower, Discussion at Universal Design 2012, 11-13, June, Oslo.

6. Sustainable Design (Sustainability SIG)


Rhoda Trimmingham, loughborough university
Carolina Escobar-Tello, Loughborough university


Gareth Wilson
Ksenija Kuzmina
Debra Lilley

The recently formed Sustainability Special Interest group (SIG) provides an international platform for researchers, design practitioners, design educators, students and the general public to exchange knowledge about all aspects of design for sustainability. 

For DRS2016 the definition of Sustainable Design has been kept deliberately broad to allow for maximum participation and may include research papers on:

  • New methods and tools for sustainable design
  • Research that supports sustainable design education
  • Sustainable design and global development challenges
  • Sustainable systems
  • Social sustainability
  • Action and Impact of sustainable design – bridging the gap between research and industry

7. Design for Behaviour Change (Behaviour Change SIG)


Kristina Niedderer, University of Wolverhampton


Rebecca Cain, University of Warwick
Geke Ludden, University of Twente
Aija Freimane, Art Academy of Latvia
Andrew Morris, Loughborough University

Designing for behaviour change is seen as a potent way to tackle some of the biggest problems in the world around us. Already, approaches derived from the concept have enabled us to recycle, heat more efficiently, increase our exercise patterns, and remind us to take our medication, along with many more examples besides. 

The ‘Design for Behaviour Change’ SIG takes a broad focus on the understanding, theories, mechanisms and applications of design for behavior change in the widest sense across the various domains of design, such as health, safety, sustainability and social issues. Covering such divergent fields and problems the challenge for DRS2016 to create a coherent understanding of practices and approaches relating to design for behaviour change. 

For DRS2016 we invite contributions that explore the cross-disciplinary application of design for behaviour change, and its real-world application, including for example:

  • What approaches does design for behaviour change offer to solving real world problems?
  • How can approaches be transferred from one domain to another?
  • How do we communicate effectively for adoption in industry and professional practice?
  • What real-world case studies are there, and what can we learn from them?
  • What are the ethical issus of implementing design for behaviour change?

Twitter: @behaviorchangeu

Indicative References

Clune, S. (2010a). Design for Behavioural Change. Journal of Design Strategies, 4, 68-75.

Crowe, T.D. (2000) Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design: Applications of Architectural. Woburn, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Dorrestijn, S. (2012). The Product Impact Tool: Designing for user-guiding and user-changing. In J. I. Van Kuijk (Ed.), Design for Usability: Methods & Tools - A Practitioner’s Guide. Delft: Design United/IOP-IPCR Design for Usability research project, pp. 110-119.

Fogg, B.J. (2003). Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do. Morgan Kaufman, San Francisco.

Jelsma, J. (2006). Designing `Moralized' Products. In Verbeek, P.P., Slob, A. (eds.), User Behavior and Technology Development: Shaping Sustainable Relations Between Consumers and Technologies. Berlin: Springer, pp.221-23

Lee, M. K., S. Kiesler, et al. (2011). Mining behavioral economics to design persuasive technology for healthy choices. CHI 2011. Vancouver BC, Canada: Chi, pp. 325-334.

Lilley, D. (2007). Designing for Behavioural Change: Reducing the Social Impacts of Product Use through Design. PhD Thesis, Loughborough University.

Lockton, D., Harrison, D., Stanton, N.A. (2010). The Design with Intent Method: a design tool for influencing user behaviour. Applied Ergonomics, 41 (3), 382-392.

Ludden, G.D.S., Hekkert, P. (2014). Design for healthy behavior. Design interventions and stages of change. 9th International Conference on Design and Emotion, Bogota, Colombia.

Niedderer, K. (2013). Mindful Design as a Driver for Social Behaviour Change. Proceedings of the IASDR Conference 2013. Tokyo, Japan: IASDR.

Niedderer, K. (2014). Mediating Mindful Social Interactions through Design. In A. Ie, C. T. Ngnoumen and E. Langer (eds.) The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Mindfulness, vol 1. Wiley, Chichester, UK, 345-366.

Wendel, S. (2014). Designing for behaviour change: Applying psychology and behavioural economics. O’Reily Media, Sebastopol, CA, USA. 

8. Design Innovation Management (DIMSIG)


Erik Bohemia, loughborough university, UK
Rachel Cooper, University of Lancaster, UK


Matt Sinclair, Loughborough University, UK
Christine de Lille, TU Delft, The Netherlands
Kees de Bont, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Bettina von Stamm, Innovation Leadership Forum, UK
Vicky Lofthouse, Loughborough University, UK
Maaike Kleinsmann, TU Delft, The Netherlands
Claudio Dell'Era, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Monika Hestad, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, UK
Noemi Sadowska , Regent’s University London, UK
Fiona Maciver, Norwich University of the Arts, UK
Pia Geisby Erichsen , University of Southern Denmark, Denmark
Ingo Rauth, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
Federico Del Giorgio Solfa, National University of La Plata, Argentina
Magnus Eneberg, Konstfack, Sweden
Anja Maier, DTU Management Engineering, Denmark

DRS2016 Theme: Changing Design Practices - How we design, what we design, and who designs?

The aim of this theme organised by the Design Innovation Management Special Interest Group is to explore Changing Design Practices. One of the triggers for this change is an incorporation of co-design as a process in which designers and users collaborate as ‘equals’ to develop innovative solutions. For example, the UK Design Council is advocating the use of co-design methods to support the development of practical innovative solutions to social problems such as increased cost of elderly care or tackling child poverty.

The involvement of users in developing solutions acknowledges that their take up is dependant on the ways users make and negotiate meanings of objects and services. Research suggests that a move to incorporate co-design processes will have an enormous implication on future designers’ and researchers’ practices. So we would like to explore the question: How we design, what we design, and who designs?

Authors contributing to this track may consider points such as:

  • Exploring tools and participatory methods facilitating co-design processes
  • The role of intercultural communication to support co-design processes
  • HE+ : capacity building of upcoming co-design practitioners
  • Co-design as innovative processes for local communities, start-ups and government
  • The breadth of remains on to which we can apply these emerging methods
  • The positive and negative implications of this trend

Indicative References

19th International Design Management Research Conference: Design Management in an Era of Disruption

Leading Innovation through Design: Proceedings of the DMI 2012 International Research Conference


SUB-CHAIR: NITHIKUL NIMKULRAT, Estonian academy of arts


Anne Louise Bang, Design School Kolding, Denmark
Mark Evans, Loughborough University, UK
Ann Heylighen, KU Leuven, Belgium
Maarit Mäkelä, Aalto University, Finland
Kristina Niedderer, University of Wolverhampton, UK
Jayne Wallace, Northumbria University, UK

Experiential knowledge is the knowledge gained by experience. It signifies a way of knowing about and understanding things and events through direct engagement with people and environment. Experiential knowledge, thinking and knowing are at the core of design practice. A design process begins and ends in the domain of experience that is in turn changed by design.

The EKSIG strand at DRS2016 invites papers and case studies that contribute to a more systematic approach for studying and integrating experiential knowledge and knowing into design practice and research. Contributors may consider the following topics:

  • Methods for the communication and transfer of experiential knowledge within design research;
  • The contribution of design practices to the understanding and communication of experiential knowledge in design research;
  • Frameworks for guiding the reception and interpretation of professional design practices and/or artefacts within research;
  • Issues evolving from criteria of research such as repeatability and transferability for the foregrounding of tacit knowledge in design research.


Biggs, M. (2004). Learning from Experience: Approaches to the Experiential Component of Practice Based Research. In H. Karlsson (ed.) Forskning-Reflektion-Utveckling. Stockholm: Swedish Research Council. pp. 6-21.

Cross, N. (2007). Designerly Ways of Knowing, Birkhäuser.

Nimkulrat, N, Evans, M. and Niedderer, K. (eds) (forthcoming 2015). Special Issue on Experiential Knowledge, Expertise and Connoisseurship. Journal of Research Practice.

Nimkulrat, N., Niedderer, K. and Evans, M. (eds) (2013) Proceedings of EKSIG 2013: Knowing Inside Out – Experiential Knowledge, Expertise and Connoisseurship. Loughborough, UK: Loughborough University. 

Mey, K. and Niedderer, K. (eds) (2012) Special Issue on Experiential Knowledge and Multi Sensory CommunicationJournal of Art and Design Education in Higher Education, 10(2). 

Polanyi, M. (1958) Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy, Routledge.

Polanyi, M. (1966) The Tacit Dimension, Doubleday.