Changing landscape of design



Design Education Research


  • collaborative research, research approaches


  • Design research shift from market driven to people driven approach – from ‘want’ to ‘need’.
  • New methodologies.
  • New multidisciplinary teams: design for development.
  • New opportunities – international collaboration.

There is growing international recognition for the complexity involved in design research. The market driven design era is progressively shifting towards a more people orientated approach with the emphasis on user centered design. Such people centered design practice lead to a shift in research methodology with participatory action research forging links with design practise. The impact of this shift is intensely felt by design researchers within our University. Not only is the demarcation of the design disciplines within research disappearing but the re-positioning of design education and the design curricula requires designers to come up with new strategies, tools and methods for research.

To address this complexity faced by researchers, the Industrial Design Department of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture (FADA) organised a workshop/project in India to develop both their theoretical understanding of community based research and to gain practical experience.

The workshop took place at Jahangirabad Media Institute (JMI) which is situated in a small village close to Barabanki and the city of Lucknow. The design team collaborated with the staff and a group of students at JMI to identify problems within the production cycle of rice.
Agriculture is the backbone and main activity of rural communities in India and farmers are still dependant on traditional farming methods and tools. The workshop looked at this sector because agricultural production has increased significantly over the past century and in 2001, for instance, India’s production of food grains exceeded formal storage capacity. The per capita consumption of food, however, remains low.

We found that, with the increase in development of supportive technology to assist farming practises, the input costs are making the price of food unaffordable and it is not always the farmer that benefits from new technology. Access to high technology is limited and not
always the perfect solution for production problems - especially in developing countries - as socio-economical aspects, cultural practises, ideologies and gender all played a role in determining the success of technology transfer processes.

We could identify a technological need and embarked on an appropriate design to overcome the problem. India’s agricultural sector provided us as researchers with an ideal opportunity to look at production systems and agricultural technologies and to interact with a society that still apply their indigenous knowledge systems and technologies.


DEFSA conferences

DEFSA promotes relevant research with the focus on design + education through its biennial conferences, to promote professionalism, accountability and ethics in the education of young designers. Our next conference is a hybrid event. See above for details.

Critical skills endorsement

Professional Members in good standing can receive a certificate of membership, but DEFSA cannot provide confirmation or endorsement of skills whatsoever. DEFSA only confirm membership of DEFSA which is a NPO for Design Education in South Africa (