The focus of Thomas Leerberg’s research has been on design methods and the application of digital media as tools in creative practice. The projects have often been network-based and have involved an extensive knowledge base. In his latest research project, Forskningsdesign i designforskning – mod en epistemologi for designforskning (Research design in design research – toward an epistemology for design research; January 2010- January 2012), the emphasis was on the methodology of design research itself and on the ‘research designs’ developed by individual researchers and institutions. The project aimed to document approaches to design research in Denmark and a number of East Asian countries: China, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. The project also focused on design research as a driver of regional and urban development. See the article East Asian Countries are Integrating Design in Society in Mind Design.
In his project The Urban Design Experience, Thomas Leerberg drew in part on experiences from his first research project (1997-98), which dealt with the North American suburb. The emphasis in that project was on the styling or “stage design” that is evident when a neighbourhood is kept in, for example, an Italian or Spanish architectural style, or when a residential area is walled in and equipped with surveillance cameras as part of an effort to reduce crime. Paradoxically, the latter often has the opposite effect, which underscores the need for more knowledge about the impact of design, installations and furnishings on human behaviour.
One of Thomas Leerberg’s goals with the suburban project was to contribute to the development of ways to enhance the quality of interpersonal relations in the urban space by means of a thoughtful use of design. This can increase the social capital of local residents and companies, which has a positive influence on the economic development of an area.
In his project Virtual Platform, Thomas Leerberg aimed to develop an internet-based working space for close collaborations among designers in different geographic locations. In the project Immaterielle Materialer (Immaterial materials) he studied how designers can approach the materiality offered by the new digital media. What, for example, is the experiential difference between using a PC and a Mac? Insight into this issue is just as essential to a multimedia designer as knowledge of wood, metal or paper is to a furniture designer or a graphic designer. Not least when the particular properties of the new media are to be used innovatively rather than simply replicating the expression, function and textural properties of other materials and media.
In his PhD project, Embedded Spaces, Thomas Leerberg explored certain fundamental relations among three stages of spatial existence in the creation of a design object: the designer’s ideas about a space, a digitally crafted spatial model and the resulting physical space. Articulated knowledge about the relations among these three spatial conceptions can help designers bring out the qualities from the original concept in the resulting product.Thomas Leerberg graduated as an architect from Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles in 1995 and from the Aarhus School of Architecture, the Department of Urban Design in 1996, where he also earned his PhD degree in 2004.
Design theory, design method, design tools, urban planning theory, urban planning method, urban development, material properties, international networks, international design research environments, societal development, design policy, design tradition, research collaboration, research design