Designing for the 21st Century
Main project collaborators
University of Leeds, University of Edinburgh, Sheffield Hallam University, University of Bath,
King’s College London, University College London, University of Birmingham,
University of the Arts, University of the West of England, University of Strathclyde,
Goldsmiths College, University of London, University of Sheffield, University of Westminster,
Glasgow School of Art, The Open University, Lancaster University, University of East London,
University of Oxford, University of Warwick, University of Cambridge, Royal College of Art,
University of Salford, Goldsmiths College, University of Strathclyde, Coventry University.
Prof Tom Inns (Initiative Director)
Vicky Hale (Initiative Co-ordinator)
Context and background
Design helps create the products, experiences and environments that are central to business and society. The act of designing involves resolving fuzzy ill-defined problems through different stages of thinking and activity, to designed solutions. In the 21st century design is changing, new technologies support the creation and embodiment of new forms of product and service, new pressures on business and society demand the design of solutions to increasingly complex problems; customers, users and stakeholders expect to be active participants in design processes. Design practice needs to respond to these drivers of change equipped with new knowledge and understanding. Generating and disseminating this knowledge requires a collaboration of minds, the Designing for the 21st Century Initiative was created to bring researchers and practitioners together to explore the changing nature of design in the new century.
The Designing for the 21st Century Initiative supported a portfolio of 41 design research projects between January 2005 and December 2009.The total budget of £6.5m was split between two phase of research. £1 million was used to fund 21 Phase 1 research cluster projects; £5.5m was used to support 20 Phase 2 research projects.
Aims and objectives
The Initiative’s aims were to foster the formation of a new diverse community with a common reference framework and shared understanding of theoretical concepts, cultures, methods and languages. To stimulate new ways of design thinking able to meet the challenges of designing for 21st century society and to support leading-edge design research that was self-reflective, socially aware, economically enterprising and internationally significant.
The Initiative and the community of researchers it represented delivered a wide range of achievements which can be clustered into five themes:
- New knowledge and understanding of design and its role in 21st century society.
- Development of new research communities and networks.
- Development of innovative research methods and project architectures.
- Development of understanding of how workshops are used as a method in research.
- Contribution to the UK’s emergent interdisciplinary research landscape.
Prof Tom Inns edited two publications capturing summaries of all 41 projects. Designing for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Questions and Issues (December 2007) provides a summary of the Phase 1 research cluster projects. Authors were encouraged to reflect on the process of organising a 12-month research cluster, to describe key insights from their work and provide readers with a comprehensive literature list for further exploration. Designing for the 21st Century: Interdisciplinary Methods and Findings (December 2009) provides a summary of the Phase 2 research projects. Authors were encouraged to reflect on the insights that can be gained through interdisciplinary research and to describe the methods that they had used within their research.
Each individual project has disseminated back into its respective research community. Key outputs include: websites, workshops, symposia and conferences, book chapters, conference papers, journal papers, publications, artefacts, exhibitions and performances. A total of 221 outputs were achieved during the Phase 1 research cluster projects and 714 outputs were achieved during the Phase 2 research projects.
AHRC and EPSRC £6.5m (Value to University of Dundee: £450,000)
01.2005 – 12.2009
- The Activity of Rhetoric
- Birth Environment Study
- Bigger Ears
- A Blueprint for Bacterial Life and Art
- Building Banter
- The Centre for Remote Environments
- Craft Festival Scotland
- Craft Innovation and Creative Development
- The Demarco Archives
- Design For Services
- Design in Action
- Designs for Life
- Designing for the 21st Century
- Designing transition to sustainability
- Enhancing Local Authorities' Community Engagement
- Entropic Modern
- Forensic & Medical Art
- GROW Observatory
- Hacking for Situated Civic Engagement
- Making Sense
- Making Sense of Creative Interactions
- Metamorphosis of Design Management Network
- The Museum of Loss and Renewal
- Narrative Exploration in Expanded Cinema
- Natural Magic
- Poetry Beyond Text: Vision, Text and Cognition
- Safer Spaces
- The South Georgia Heritage Trust
- Visual Effects Research Lab
- Visualising Our Maritime Heritage
- Window to the West