An autonomous approach and a high degree of diversity characterise the Norwegian design research environment. New initiatives emerge from the individual academic and professional fields. That produces a strong environment but also requires efficient cooperation across institutional boundaries, says Petter Øyan, head of Norway’s Professional Council for Design Education, and Rachel K.B. Troye, pro-rector and head of the Institute of Design at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design.
By Trine Vu
Norway is a skier racing down the mountain slope with ease and grace. A knit woolen sweater with a red and blue pattern. The wooden Tripp Trapp chair that is found in so many families with young children.
Norwegians often take their own unique approach to things. That is also true of Norwegian design research, which is characterised by a high degree of autonomy and diversity, according to, among others, Petter Øyan, head of the Professional Council for Design Education.
The Professional Council for Design Education is a national council under the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions. It represents the state-run design education institutions and, among other purposes, facilitates their mutual cooperation.
“Norway has no national master plan for design research. On the contrary, there are many actors working on many different levels. It’s a fairly autonomous process with very little top-down management,” says Petter Øyan and adds with a smile that the decentralised structure may also reflect the fact that Norwegians are simply averse to top-down management.
|Strong Norwegian design research environment. Petter Øyan, head of the Professional Council for Design Research in Norway, says that Norwegian design research is motivated by ambitions in the individual academic or professional environments, and that this helps create a strong design research environment.
Photo: Olav-Johan Øye
Two national councils contribute to the development of the design field: One is the Norwegian Design Council, which has a commercial focus and aims especially to help Norwegian companies increase innovation by means of design. Among other activities, the council runs the DIP programme – a design-driven innovation programme funded by the Norwegian government with the goal of promoting companies’ use of design. The other council, Norsk Form, focuses on communication and the exchange of design knowledge and user experiences with design.
|More cooperation in the future. Cooperation is the keyword for the future design environment in Norway, says Rachel K.B. Troye, pro-rector and head of the Institute for Design at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design.
Photo: Norsk Designråd
“One of the sore spots was that when victims come into the clinic, they are asked to sit on a sheet of paper and to wear paper gloves. This is done to secure any traces of DNA, but it’s like being put on display with a sign around your neck saying ‘I was raped’,” says Rachel Troye and explains how the students instead developed a blanket that the victims can wrap around themselves, and which captures any traces of DNA.
The students developed three conceptual solutions. In addition to the more humane way of collecting DNA material this includes an integrated information system and a guide for creating a new centre for victims of sexual assault.
At the other end of the spectrum lies the project Ulstein Bridge Concept. Here, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design is working with the Ulstein Group, which builds large ships for the offshore industry, to develop a brand-new concept and new technology for the bridge of these ships.“It is a mix of interaction design and product design, and it’s fascinating to see how such a big corporation perceives the value of involving designers in the development process,” says Rachel Troye and adds that although Norwegian design research remains a fairly young discipline, in her assessment the researchers’ results have reached a wide audience and are widely recognised.
The Councils in Norway
The Professional Council for Design Education is a national council under the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions. The members of the Professional Council represent the state-run design education institutions, including Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Oslo National Academy of the Arts and the Bergen Academy of Art and Design. In addition, it has representatives from the National Union of Students in Norway and observers from the Norwegian Design Council, Norsk Form and other organisations. The Council has approximately 20 members. One of its responsibilities is to provide a form of oversight of research publication channels. In Norway, research publications are categorised as either Level 1 or Level 2. The Council reviews the journals, raising the best of them to Level 2 and removing sub-par journals from the system. Another of the Council’s responsibilities is to coordinate grading in the educational programmes and facilitate cooperation among the many actors in the design field.
The Norwegian Design Council seeks to promote the use of design as a strategic tool for innovation in order to improve competitiveness in Norwegian business and industry. The Design Council is funded by the Norwegian government, and one of its initiatives is the so-called DIP-programme – a design-driven innovation programme aimed at encouraging companies to use design. The Design Council also runs the programme Design for All, which offers inspiration and advice about developing products and services that are accessible to all users. Read more at www.norskdesign.no
Norsk Form, The Foundation for Design and Architecture in Norway, is working actively to improve people's quality of life and everyday situation through the use of design and architecture. The foundation achieves this by initiating and participating in chosen projects and through teaching, events, competitions and exhibitions. Read more at www.norskform.no
Oslo School of Architecture and Design presents its design research.
Bergen Academy of Art and Design presents the Norwegian Artistic Research Fellowship Programme.