In 2000, the Danish Evaluation Institute, EVA, evaluated the design education programmes at The Danish Design School, Kolding School of Design, Aarhus School of Architecture, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture and the Glass and Ceramics School on Bornholm. One of the conclusions was that the programmes represented crucial values but also that these values were poorly anchored due to the absence of a theoretical and research-based foundation.
Based on this evaluation, the Danish Parliament decided to initiate a process aimed at establishing a research base for the education programmes. In this process, The Danish Design School and the Kolding School of Design developed the capacity to establish research-based programmes by adding researchers to their staff and by introducing a number of PhD scholarships. Further, it was decided to establish the Danish Centre for Design Research, which was tasked with coordinating the research at the four design education programmes. As specified in the centre’s statutes, section 12, the Danish Ministry of Culture required an evaluation of the research at all four institutions in 2010.
The Danish Centre for Design Research was founded in June 2003. The centre was headed by a steering committee comprising the rectors of the four associated institutions and two design research experts from outside Denmark. The centre’s core activities were driven by a coordination committee comprising the heads of research at the four institutions.
Every year since 2004, the centre has brought all the design researchers at the schools together for a research seminar where the centre’s own researchers and experts from other research environments in Denmark and abroad have addressed topics related to design research, including research-based education and design theory. The centre also contributes to the ongoing development of qualifications in the field by organising courses, seminars and workshops with the involvement of the centre’s researchers and PhD scholars.
The Master of Design
programme is established as a two-year, part-time master’s level programme funded by tuition fees. The programme is open to practicing designers, architects, design educators and people from design-related professions. The purpose of the programme is to prepare students for the new conditions that the design profession is facing today and to offer them an opportunity to gain additional theoretical and methodological qualifications.
In 2006, the centre underwent a mid-way evaluation. Based on this evaluation, the Ministry of Culture decided to appoint a new chairman of the centre’s Steering Committee
in autumn 2006, Professor, D.Phil. Morten Kyndrup, and to reconstruct the centre in spring 2007 with a new set of statutes.
The Danish Centre for Design Research was reconstructed. Dorthe Mejlhede
was appointed new director, and an impartial, Advisory Research Committee
was established to oversee the allocation of the centre’s research funds
to the research departments in the institutions associated with the centre. The master programme, the centre’s annual research seminar, the Coordination Committee
etc. continued as before.
Master of Design, Class I completed the programme with an external examination, and students were enrolled in Class II.
The centre established professional communication and research dissemination activities. These efforts included the launch of the webzine Mind Design
in separate Danish and English editions and a redesign of the centre’s website to make it a portal for the Danish design research environment. A new corporate identity was launched for the centre.
The webzine Mind Design offers a quick and flexible way of conveying information about design research activities and findings to the centre’s own researchers as well as an external audience, including business and industry. Subscription to Mind Design
, which is published in both Danish and English, is free.
Since 2008, the centre has offered annual doctoral courses in design
to the centre’s PhD scholars
. The courses have also accepted PhD scholars from other institutions.
The centre has founded and publishes the research journal Artifact
. In addition to being an internationally recognised channel for design research, Artifact also contributes to building and maintaining the centre’s network and putting Danish design research on the world map. Artifact is now an Open Access journal with unrestricted online access for everyone.
The centre’s new communication platforms were developed after a lengthy process where the staff at the DCDR office in cooperation with the Coordination Committee and the Steering Committee planned a stakeholder analysis aimed at determining the best approach to research dissemination. The stakeholder analysis, which involved a survey that was carried out in 2008, focused on business and industry. One of the findings of the analysis was that the companies are interested in the centre’s research and in receiving information about research projects. The centre’s communication efforts are aimed at disseminating research findings and providing information about design research and its potentials as a catalyst for innovation.
In addition to the written communication, the centre also served as the main organiser of broader dissemination events, including a science café about fashion research
at the Festival of Research and a dialogue meeting with
the design industry
about research and education.
Class II in the Master of Design programme graduated after an external examination, and students were enrolled in Class III.
The Danish Centre for Design Research was evaluated by an external, international research panel. The evaluation was positive, as reflected in the article Flotte ord til dansk designforskning
(in Danish only) in the Danish national newspaper Politiken on 14 November 2010.
The Danish government established the vision committee Design2020, and the Danish Centre for Design Research contributed to the efforts of the Danish Ministry of Culture to analyse the national and international design research environments.
Class III completed the master’s programme, and 31 students were enrolled in Class IV.
When the new government took over in autumn 2011, the centre moved from the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture to the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education
, along with the schools of architecture and design.
As part of the centre’s regular activities, research funds have been awarded to the research environments at the schools of architecture and design three times a year. From 2005 to 2011, the centre has awarded some 19 million Danish kroner in total to 74 individual projects.
Since the reconstruction of the centre in 2007, the centre has focused on the following core areas: 1) Research-promoting activities, including doctoral courses, 2) The Master of Design programme, and 3) Research dissemination.
The centre provides a highly qualified framework and a physical setting for researchers to meet across institutional boundaries, exchange experiences and uncover possibilities for synergy and collaboration in research projects where the diversity of the environments can serve as a source of mutual inspiration and support.
Regular meetings between the heads of research at the schools, the director of the centre and the centre’s research coordinator in the Coordination Committee ensure the continuity and the ongoing development of the cross-institutional collaboration. The researchers at the centre office provide the research-based foundation enabling the centre to organise courses, research seminars and other networking activities across the schools.