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DRS18 3
DRS18 1
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Category Finalist




University of Limerick & LSAD



Design Education & Research

Intrinsic Design


Muireann McMahon (University of Limerick) and Eamon Spelman (Co-Chair, LSAD] and Adam de Eyto (Co-Chair, UL)

Design Challenge and Design Ideas

Design research in Ireland is in its nascence. With this in mind design faculty at UL and LSAD collaborated in a successful bid to host the Design Research Society’s International Biennial Conference from 24th-28th June 2018. DRS2018 intended to drive forward the design research agenda in Ireland; attract emerging and world-leading experts in a collaborative forum to explore new opportunities and raise awareness of the impact of design on industry, academia and society.

Curating the theme of DRS2018: Catalyst was a multifaceted challenge. Not only did we set out to create an inclusive, diverse and broad delegate population from both academia and industry; we also wanted to broach controversial topics, give voice to marginalised sectors and offer new experimental platforms for design research dissemination. When at its best, design is a powerful catalyst for change. Conversely, designers flourish in a state of flux where interesting work emerges from chaos.

How the brief was fulfilled

UL and LSAD set the challenge of hosting the DRS2018 Conference in 2016 and spent two years planning and programming the events. Through these two years, we opened several calls for participation (tracks, papers, workshops and conversations), curated a series of provocative debates and scheduled satellite activities to accompany DRS2018 Conference (Opening Ceremony, exhibitions, Gala Dinner and networking events).

DRS2018 brought 600 delegates from over 40 countries to Limerick during some of the hottest weather in Irish history! The delegate attendance spanned industry and academia and ranged from new to well-established designers, ensuring a diversity of voices and expertise.

The activities began with PhD by Design on June 24, where 60 local and international early-career Design Researchers explored untangling the messiness of conducting practice based PhDs. Ten DRS2018 workshops ran concurrently with PhD by Design. The workshops allowed more freedom, space and time to stage structured discussion and collaborative processes, trial tools and methods whilst using unconventional and experimental formats.

The following three days (25th-28th) saw Keynote Debates launch each day, the topics of which catalysed the design community around often-controversial issues in design namely counter perspectives on traditional design gazes, design in society and policy and research impacts in industry. Parallel sessions of papers, conversations and workshops ran for the days, interspersed with breakout and networking opportunities. Social events were held each evening including a special IDI Bread & Butter, unique Gala Dinner and the first all-Ireland ‘Best of Emerging Design’ showcasing a range of graduate work across the spectrum of design disciplines.

The variety of activities engaged delegates across industry and academia, highlighted the impact and potential of Irish design and established Limerick and Ireland as a dynamic centre of high-level design research.

We have created several outputs form DRS2018 to ensure the legacy sustains and those who did not attend can still benefit from the learning and activities. These include:
1. DRS2018 Proceedings – 7 volumes of the 210 publicly accessible papers from the conference http://www.drs2018limerick.org/participation/proceedings
2. DRS2018 Conversations proceedings – 1 volume of curated reflections from the 21 unique DRS2018 Conversation sessions.
3. DRS2018 Photo Galleries http://www.drs2018limerick.org/gallery/conference-day-1
4. DRS2018 Keynote Debate Videos http://www.drs2018limerick.org/participation/keynote-debates.

The School of Design at UL and LSAD collaborated closely to plan, implement and deliver this unique design research event.

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