Experiments in Design Research: Expressions, Knowledge, Critique

Published on: June 12th, 2012

The fifth Nordic Design Research Conference, Nordes ’13: Experiments in Design Research: Expressions, Knowledge, Critique takes place in Copenhagen/Malmö in 2013 June 9th – 12th.

Design is closely affiliated with the experimental, which is as an exploratory and probing undertaking. What does this mean in the context of design research? Today, design research relies on various and divergent notions of design experimentation and ideas about their value and use. In one corner, experimentation is conceived of as designerly exploration into, for instance, materials, technologies, and expressions. In another corner, design experimentation is shaped according to hypothetical-deductive models of knowledge production inherited from science and engineering. Yet, in a third corner, design experiments are explored as a means for promoting social change or as a critique of political and ethical values. For instance, this can take the form of critique through fiction and utopias. This raises a set of central questions for design research: How is design experimentation similar and different from experimentation in other research fields and areas? What is the relation of exploration vis-à-vis experimentation in design research? How is it possible, if at all necessary, to provide a consistent account of research methods underlying experimental design research? How can design experiments be staged other than as highly idealized probing situations? What is the role of design experiments as aspects of a critical aesthetic practice?

Nordes 2013 invites designers and design researchers to explore the many aspects of design research as experimental practice.

Possible themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Objects of design experiments
  • Experimental expressions
  • Design experiments as critique
  • Experiments in design research versus those in science and art
  • Methods of experiments in design research
  • Staging experiments
  • Places of design experiments
  • Experiments in design education

Nordes 2013 invites contributions that experiment with the conference formats and experimental papers/presentations will receive special attention.

All submissions should be in English. All submissions are subject to double-blind peer review by at least 2 reviewers. Accepted contributions should be revised according to the review reports and the language should be checked by a native English speaker.

Important dates

December 1, 2012: Submission system opens

December 20, 2012: Submission deadline for:

  • Full papers
  • Exploratory papers
  • Exhibition artifacts/installations/performances
  • Workshop proposals (workshop participation will be advertised later)
  • Doctoral consortium

March 20, 2013: Author notification

April 20, 2013: Submission of final version

Full papers

The Nordes 2013 conference invites original papers on various forms of experimentation within design and design research. Full papers must be of the highest international standard and contribute significantly to research and practice within design. Nordes 2013 aims to be a multidisciplinary forum for emergent and current research areas influencing the various design disciplines. Full papers should be 10 pages including illustrations, figures, and references. Papers will undergo double blind peer-reviews and accepted papers will be presented in the conference programme and published in the conference proceedings. The proceedings will be available as an open access online database during and after the conference.

Exploratory papers

We invite the submission of exploratory papers that include design cases, position papers, work in progress, and emerging new research areas which may yet lack solid theoretical foundations, but point towards exciting new directions for design research. Exploratory papers should be 4 pages, including illustrations and references. Exploratory papers will undergo double blind peer-reviews and accepted papers will be published in the conference proceedings. The proceedings will be made available as an open access online database during and after the conference.

Workshops proposals

Workshops at Nordes 2013 will enjoy a central position. The ambition is to create common experiences and to provide different kinds of platforms for exchaning new ideas. A day in the middle of the program will be researved for workshops and all conference participants are expected to take part in at least one workshop. We especially invite proposals where the format encourages active participation by the workshop attendees or which demonstrates new ways of how experiments can be explored in a workshop setting. A workshop can, for instance, take the form of on-site enactments, excursions, tutorials, studios, discussion sessions, etc. A workshop proposal should be maximum 2 pages and state its purpose, a tentative programme for the day (or half a day), how attendees are accepted for participating in the workshop (e.g. through artifacts or position papers, or just by signing up), requirements for the physical setting and materials.


Through the Nordes 2013 exhibition we wish explore ways that the display of works of art, craft, and design can become a prominent venue for exchanging ideas and understanding. Artists, designers, and researchers will be able to present their work to the conference attendees in dedicated exhibition sessions. We invite submissions of artifacts, installations, and performances documented via pictures, videos, or links to websites. A two-page paper explaining how the exhibition artifact relates to the conference’s overall theme of experimentation should accompany each submission. Paper and visual documentation will be included in the conference proceedings and made available through an open access online database during and after the conference.

Doctoral consortium

The doctoral consortium is an opportunity for doctoral students to get feedback on their projects from some of the prominent researchers and fellow doctoral students within the field of design research. It is also an excellent chance to get to know others in the same situation or to meet again after last year’s NORDES summer school. The doctoral consortium will take place immediately before the formal opening of the conference. Participants will be chosen based on the quality of their submissions. Submissions should be 4 pages and can be published in the proceedings if the PhD studen wish it. The proceedings will be made available as an open access online database during and after the conference.

For questions please contact the conference committee.

For older conference material, please see previous conferences or the conference system site.

Program Contact

Caroline Dionne, Program Director

Program Update

Parsons is not currently admitting new students to this master’s degree program. Parsons is now offering a Graduate Minor in Design Studies that is designed to complement the MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies and other graduate programs across the university in design, liberal arts, and social research.