International design firm Perkins Eastman and EwingCole announced the release of their new joint white paper “Where Are We Now?: Elevating Design Practice through Design Research.” The paper is co-authored by Emily Chmielewski, EDAC, Associate and Senior Design Researcher at Perkins Eastman, and Nicholas Watkins, Ph.D., Director of Research at EwingCole.
The paper takes an in-depth look at the current state of the design research field, dissects the many challenges researchers face, and contemplates broad solutions for advancing the practice of design research for the overall betterment of the architectural design field.
In March 2016, the Perkins Eastman and EwingCole research teams, led by Chmielewski and Watkins, developed and instituted a comprehensive online survey of 29 questions, in partnership with the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA). The survey was available online for three weeks and was completed by a mix of students, educators, designers, and design research professionals. The results of that survey were then presented at the 47th Annual EDRA Conference (EDRA47), in Raleigh, NC.
The value of credibility of design research, research methods, and knowledge, sharing, and sustainability of design research in practice are a few of the topics the survey’s questions focused on.
At EDRA47, the teams engaged in conversation with various conference attendees about the many challenges related to conducting design research as well as solutions for promoting the incorporation of design research in design delivery. The survey’s findings, combined with input from the EDRA conference, informed the content produced for “Where Are We Now?”
According to Watkins, “A key challenge for all researchers in practice is to communicate our studies’ findings in such a way that attracts the attention of designers and clients, as well as conveys insights that can effectively impact the design industry. One of our intentions in writing this paper was to help our industry peers in tackling those challenges, and consequently, finding more receptive audiences for their important work.”