Practice-based design research


Subject development at Umeå Institute of Design encompasses traditions building on artistic development work, professional design practices, and design research.

Our research addresses current and emerging practices in design, from perspectives of programmatic and practice-based design research. The primary objective of our research is to develop design as a discipline by extending its existing practices and forming its future foundations.

We aim to be at the forefront of addressing how design - its ethics and aesthetics, poetics and politics - can evolve to meet changes and challenges in our social, technical and ecological contexts. 

We believe that critical and inclusive perspectives are necessary as we engage in research on what could become through making and design experimentation that can give material form to imaginative, hopeful speculations on diverse design futures.

The research at Umeå Institute of Design is thematically open with respect to the issues and areas of industrial design we engage with. Considering contemporary and historical trajectories of design research, however, some particularly interesting and urgent challenges can be mentioned. These include explorations of:

- how to transition social practices to more socially and ecologically sustainable futures through design; 

- how to design and care for posthuman futures in a sociotechnical landscape now marked by pronounced breakdowns in traditional relations of production and consumption, where 'use' of things now entails production of data about everyday life that goes on to generate economic value for other actors in massively interconnected and dynamic networks; and

- how to craft the increasing and evolving presence of artificial intelligence and agency in everyday life. 

We are not so much interested in technological or interactive possibilities for their own sake, but rather in how they come to matter - literally and figuratively. This includes the socioeconomic contexts that enable and shape professional design practices and products, as well as the social and political contexts of design action and its consequences.

In everything we do at UID - including our research - we seek to put people first, to collaborate with diverse stakeholders and forms of expertise, and to actively engage in ways that make a difference.