The final stages of a PhD can, it seems, get a bit messy with the various administrative function, the need for examiners to sign off on corrections and the need for your host institution to tick boxes, dot “i”s and cross “t”s. This institutional process is perhaps exacerbated when the internal machinations of higher education, along with the external mechanics of “the world as we know it” are now clearly seen to be running into the ground. Nevertheless, and not wishing to dwell too much on that ground here, my PhD is now formally finished. This stage has been marked quite definitively by the arrival of the certificate through the post. The thesis will surely end up at the British Library eventually but for now is anyway out there somewhere and apparently being downloaded by people interested in how design can be used as a method for studying other things.
In getting to that stage, a number of loose threads have been kicking around and one of these is tied up here. The Design Research Society commissioned some work in 2016 to tie into their 50th anniversary conference which I responded to by following up previous conferences. These were tweeted, as shown in the previous post, but also written up in more narrative fashion, published on the conference website. These posts are linked to here, following the DRS from its founding in 1962 to the apparent anarchy of the 1973 London conference. After 1973 things seemed to fall apart a little and the design of the design conference, as a conflation of circus performer and renaissance man, seemed to be a fitting end point for the study. The problems that design research as a discipline seems to have with this focus on one gender and the sense of being a circus genre continues to recur through, for example, the DRS discussion board.
So here, in part, is a memorialisation of my history of that circus.
Revisiting conference past: an introduction to the project
Conference on design methods: Three days at Imperial College London in 1962.
Ephemera: Recording and recalling the past: soundings of the founding.
TED ’64: Early DRS members take the talks to Scarborough.
The Design Method: an enduring classic?
The formation of the Design Research Society: turning over a new page.
Design Methods in Architecture: a heated debate between behaviour and phenomenon.
Design Participation: Reyner Banham in Owens Park
Design Activities: the circus comes to town