The field of Design Research has emerged in contemporary discourse as a prominent topic of interest and is increasingly integral to pedagogical constructs in academia. In design, unlike many fields, research exists as an extremely loosely defined term with continuously evolving questions, results, and methodologies. Often,this research does not follow accepted mechanisms for scientific research and validation and in many cases the designed object or system is the result and the design process- the methodology. Within the loosely defined boundaries of design research, applied research has emerged as a curiosity that has led to a flood of projects, degree programs, and research groups in the academy and to lesser extent in practice. Despite the perceived success of applied research in academic settings the relationship to practice and fiscal viability of research as practice is still not fully understood. Often, applied research in design results in advancement through the adaptation of technologies specified for fields outside of design or the development of novel solutions to pragmatic issues. As the traditional boundaries of design practice are increasingly questioned, broadened, and blurred, scientific research in technology development and application emerges as an essential vehicle for exploration and assessment. This symposium will explore the position, relevancy, and sustainability of applied research in design practice and will attempt to address the aspects of research as practice across design disciplines with examples from contemporary practitioners.
Convergence is an annual spring symposium sponsored by the Doctor of Design Program at Harvard University, dedicated to the exploration of interdisciplinary topics that engage issues of design research and practice. In this inaugural year, the symposium will explore the position, relevancy, and sustainability of applied research in design practice across various disciplines with examples from contemporary practitioners.