Reflections on IIT’s 2011 Design Research Conference

November 3, 2011

Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies

A few members of our team attended Institute of Design’s (IIT) annual Design Research Conference in Chicago last week. The conference started with a half day workshop followed by two days of presentations. Speakers from various disciplines of design (industrial, digital interaction, commerce, service, regulatory, etc.) demonstrated the applications and benefits of new research methodologies in the design process. The conference also witnessed applications of design research in varying degrees of scope and depth.

“Along with speaking with friends and colleagues at the conference, the presentations were also very motivating. I enjoyed the seamless blend between the professional and academic fields throughout the presentations. On one side you see new theorems with academic nature being presented, while on the other you see the implementation of similar theorems by professionals.” —Nikhil Mathew, Design Strategist at Beyond Design

The use of new technology platforms for crowd sourcing and data analysis was a key topic for the first day of the conference. Michael Winnick and Martha Cotton shared DSCOUT, an online data collection and analysis tool developed by Gravity Tank. Peter Mortensen and Joyce Chen from Jump Associates presented the importance of using distinct research methods for each unique user classification. John Tolva, Chief Technology Officer for the City of Chicago, presented how the creation of an open source platform allowed developers to create valuable apps based on huge amounts of previously unused data from the city.

25 Presentations, 2 Days

“Almost every presentation brought new perspectives and something distinct to offer the audience. It was interesting to see how design as a field is constantly diversifying, along with design research proving its relevance through effective applications in those diversified fields. I was particularly intrigued in seeing how traditional design research and analysis is merging with the field of statistics and analytics.” —Nikhil Mathew

The second day of the conference focused on the relevance of combining qualitative and quantitative research methods to find both find insights and validate for generalization. Ken Kellogg and Gina Villavicencio shared how Marriott e-commerce values a balance of qualitative and quantitative research methods in their new product development. Arjun Chakravarti, from Stuart School of Business, shared his thoughts on the relevance of combining design research with behavioral economics in order to define elements of design for pricing and value proposition. NBBJ and Kaiser Permanente shared their work about how design research is used in developing strategic directions to better the environmental experience of large healthcare spaces.

Speakers, from left: Bruce Nussbaum (Professor of Innovation and Design, Parsons The New School for Design), Ilya Prokopoff (IDEO), Barbara Denton (Kaiser Permanente), and Jacob Simons (NBBJ)

“With the field of design constantly expanding, exposure to these venues helps design professionals to constantly update themselves and stay away from redundancy. It is beneficial for professionals who are trying to see credibility in design research, as well as to those who are trying to integrate and develop this into the product development process. Almost all the topics presented can be taken into the field of product development and be used for creating valuable product and service solutions.” —Patrick Nally, Industrial Designer at Beyond Design

Break Time!

For more on the conference, you can view a PDF we put together here.

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