2012 brings new opportunities for the Danish Centre for Design Research. There continues to be a need for a broadly based coordination of design research in Denmark with the purpose of realising the considerable potential of the research.
EDITORIAL 2011 was characterised by profound changes in the research environments associated with the Danish Centre for Design Research. Much has changed in a culmination of years of efforts to establish and develop research activities within the design education programmes. The change process began in late 2010 with the evaluation of Danish design research by a panel of international researchers. The evaluation was positive, and in 2011, changes and related processes have had their impact on design research in general and on the Danish Centre for Design Research.
Both the 2010 research evaluation and the previous government’s vision committee report Design2020 point to the need for a national coordination of design research. The vision committee report recommends,
“Strengthen the coordination of design research and knowledge sharing by developing a coherent, national design research strategy. The ongoing development of design research education should be continued, in part by increased coordination and cooperation with other design-related research programmes.”
Gisele Raulik-Murphy, who is a senior researcher at Design Wales in the United Kingdom, also recommends national coordination in her research project from 2010. Among other points, she concludes that strong coordination efforts involving research, business and government are a condition for the ability of a design policy to affect competitiveness and innovation. If this national coordination is lacking, the potential synergy of the initiated design promotion activities might be jeopardised, she explained to Mind Design in February of 2011.
“The effort to promote industry’s use of design won’t be truly effective unless it is an integrated part of a design policy with a strong emphasis on the interaction between stakeholders in research, the companies and government agencies,” Gisele Raulik-Murphy pointed out in the design research webzine.
The Danish Centre for Design Research has established cooperation and networks with companies and organisations. This enables the coordination of design research in Denmark to meet its potential as an innovation driver and thus enables design research to contribute to growth and development.
A systematic continuing education programme on the highest level is another need that is mentioned in the vision committee’s report, Design2020. It is also a need that has long been voiced by the organisations within the design industry. Since 2005, the Danish Centre for Design Research has developed and run the Master of Design programme. This means that the centre has long-standing in-depth experience with continuing design education that is ready to be applied in a larger context in relation to designers and others who need to update their design knowledge. We will also be able to create new master’s programmes – typically with an international slant – and diploma programmes.
For many years, the Danish Centre for Design Research has distributed research funds to design research at the architecture and design schools under the Danish Ministry of Culture. This funding has supported the establishment of research activities at these institutions. The centre has also established cooperation relations and research infrastructure as well as communication platforms in Danish and English. Furthermore, the centre publishes the research journal Artifact, which was recently relaunched as an Open Access journal. This means that all the research articles of the journal will be freely available for download online.
After the successful research evaluation in 2010, and after the new government took office in September 2011, both the architecture and design schools and the centre have been transferred to the new Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education. This lets us engage a broader research environment and enables us to coordinate and disseminate design research nationally in relation to the research that takes place at the universities and the knowledge sharing in the design education programmes at the university colleges. At the centre, we have already embarked on this development with our Ph.D. courses, which have also attracted Ph.D. students from the universities.
A strong national coordination of design research confers international advantages: Danish design research increases in volume and visibility in relation to the international research environment and international companies. The Danish Centre for Design Research is already seen as an active partner by many around the world, and there remains a considerable additional branding potential for the centre and future Danish design research efforts.
Increased visibility also makes it easier to apply for research funds from the European Union. At the Danish Centre for Design Research we have been looking into EU research funds for a while, and we are now considering the next EU framework programme, Horizon 2020. The conditions, visibility, volume and business relations of a research environment are crucial for the ability to secure EU research funds. Thus, by joining forces within the framework of the Danish Centre for Design Research, the Danish design research environment has improved its standing in the international competition for research funds.
We are looking forward to the new opportunities for cooperation about design research under the auspices of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education in 2012.
Best wishes for 2012.