Drexel's Design Research Symposium Explores Design and Change

October 10, 2018 | 2018 Festival, DesignPhiladelphia


For the third consecutive year, Drexel’s Master of Science in Design Research (DSRE) program is hosting the 2018 Design Research Symposium. The symposium aims to take attendees on a journey through the design process to explore how design research can create changes in health, technology, and the environment. Taking place this Friday, October 12, at Drexel’s URBN Center ANNEX at 3401 Filbert Street, the program will include presentations by IBM, Cityhealth in Brooklyn, Healthify in New York, and Ballinger, discussions, and poster presentations.

We recently sat down with D.S Nicholas, Director of The MS Design Research Program at Drexel’s Westphal College of Media Arts and Design to discuss Design Research and how it impacts the world around us and how we can connect with the community to effect change.

Research has always been a component in learning the world around us, from early childhood development and into our professional careers. Why is research important now to design?

The world has reached a level of complexity that demands a research and team-driven approach. Most disciplines are acknowledging this through renewed reaching across lines that in the past have created silo-ized practices. What distinguishes the research that the Drexel MS Design Research students do is that it is focused on a pragmatic approach coupled with strong interdisciplinary experiences and an underpinning of both theory and studio practice. This reflects the reality of design these days. Designers need to be at the table early, often and working across traditional lines to have success in their work and for those they serve.

How do we make the connection between the benefits of design research to the community at large?

Most important is to widen the frame of design so that design research can add to the unearthing of problems and opportunities where our work can be of value. In addition, we need to work to strategically to build capacity with our partners through our critically driven processes. Great ideas cannot be implemented without the correct frame, context, and process. This is how design research can connect community and design.

What is unique about this year’s Design Research Symposium? And what is the takeaway?

Takeaway: Design research can help drive change and new ideas in complex environments such as healthcare through process and collaboration.

Unique: We are overtly examining how change occurs as a way of feeding the conversation around design and design research, in relation to technology, health, and environments.

Is there anything else you would like to add about the Master of Science in Design Research (DSRE) program at Drexel, the host of the Design Research Symposium?

The Drexel environment is a unique mix of practice and experimentation. This, the third, of our annual symposium events, reflects that amalgam in the invited experts and the work being shown. The symposium both showcases our unique and diverse student projects, while at the same time creating an arena to explore new directions for Design Research. The DSRE program is unique in that is driven by diverse interests with a core practice and process that is comprehensive, theory and studio driven. The program is tailored to students’ individual development and offers great flexibility coupled with a rigorous research and creative environment.


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