Design research is an important way that UAL connects creative practice and social purpose, which is embedded in the university’s new strategy for 2022-32.
To further establish the field of design research, the Social Design Institute has been working to define and articulate the potential and implications of practice research in social design.
We see practice research in design as an engine for embedded and collectively driven change. The resources on this page, aimed at researchers, PhD students, educators and partners for research, illuminate and showcase the variety of approaches and positions taken in carrying out practice research and the outcomes achieved.
Exploring and articulating
To develop a new articulation of practice research design, the Social Design Institute team is working with colleagues and PhD researchers across the university through exploratory workshops, mapping activities and desk research. Our main outputs are:
- An international symposium (PDF 2747) at Chelsea College of Arts on 19-20 May 2022, bringing together different perspectives on practice research.
- A new working paper by Dr Patrycja Kaszynska, Professor Lucy Kimbell and Dr Jocelyn Bailey which provides a nuanced exploration of what practice research means in design and the arts. Practice Research In Design: Towards a novel definition (PDF 1,269KB)
- A collection of videos showcasing examples of practice research in design by UAL staff and PhD researchers.
- A set of short case studies providing perspectives on practice research by UAL staff.
- A collaborative bibliography on practice research for UAL colleagues and PhD researchers.
- A track on ‘Practice Research as a Form of Inquiry’ at the Design Research Society 2022 Conference in Bilbao chaired by Dr Patrycja Kaszynska (UAL) with Dr Thomas Markussen and Dr Eva Knutz (Southern Denmark University).
Practice Research Symposium 2022
On 19/20 May 2022, the Social Design Institute brought together international and UK academics and PhD researchers from different design disciplines, positions and perspectives for the Symposium on Practice Research: Definitions, Contexts, Futures where key foundational topics relating to practice research in design were explored. The event provided a forum for critical discussion of the possibilities and consequences of this form of research and development, and the contexts in which it has emerged.
Symposium recordings are now available to view:
- Opening Panel: Setting the Scene
- Panel Two: Definitions - Knowledge, boundaries, interventions, methodologies
- Panel Three: Realities of doing design practice research
- Panel Four: Contexts - Infrastructures, drivers, narratives
- Panel Five: Doctoral study in practice research in social design and design for sustainability
- Panel Six: Futures for practice research in social design: Opportunities, challenges, demands
SDI Research Fellow Dr Jocelyn Bailey has worked with researchers from across UAL to produce a set of short case studies, offering different perspectives on practice research and the multifarious ways it can contribute to achieving social purpose outcomes.
The first four are now available to download, with more to follow in due course:
- Dr Francesco Mazzarella (LCF) on the ReGo project (PDF 274KB)
- Dr Laetitia Forst (BFTT and Centre for Circular Design) on the Re-modelling Fashion project (PDF 276KB)
- Dr Silvia Grimaldi (LCC) on the Camden Family Changemakers Project (PDF 1.7MB)
- Dr Roxanne Leitão (former PhD student at UAL) on Technology-initiated Intimate Partner Abuse (PDF 532 KB)
Staff and PhD researchers from several design disciplines across UAL present their practice research in design in relation to social design and sustainability. The videos are organised in 3 different themes, presenting a range of positions and perspectives.