Research Through Design 2017 Conference

New Disciplines of Making – Shared Knowledge in Doing

22nd-24th March 2017,

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh UK

Twitter: @RTD2017

1st Call for Submissions

We are excited to invite submissions for the third biennial Research Through Design (RTD) conference to be held in Edinburgh, UK, between the 22nd and 24th of March 2017. RTD supports the dissemination of practice-based research through a novel and experimental conference format, comprising a curated exhibition of design research, accompanied by round-table discussions in ‘Rooms of Interest’. The exhibition will be used as a platform for presenting and demonstrating research processes and outputs, and for generating debate on the role of the design practitioner and their work in a research context. Building on the success of the second RTD conference held in Microsoft Research’s lab in Cambridge in 2015, the third conference, RTD 2017, is to be hosted at the National Museum of Scotland (NMS) in Edinburgh. This promises to be an exciting venue for exploring new and emerging making disciplines, in a sustainably minded and socially aware community of practice. RTD 2017 offers a unique opportunity for conference exhibits to be juxtaposed with traditional curated NMS artefacts and collections, challenging contemporary and future notions of value and expertise.

We invite submissions from researcher-practitioners documenting research through design projects, including descriptions of methods, processes and insights emerging from design inquiry. It is anticipated that this will offer a departure point for rich discussion. Criteria for selection are based on the author’s presentation of artefacts (constituting research process or outcomes) and should be central to their submission. Artefacts will be included in the curated exhibition, and papers should accompany the exhibited artefact in a presentation of ‘research through design’ at the conference. Conference proceedings will be publicly available via Figshare (

Contributions to RTD 2017 may fall under (but are not limited to) the following themes:
Material: Fluidity of Knowledge: What are the new disciplines in making? Ceramics, glass, metalwork, woodwork, textiles, are all long established materials based disciplines in making. New roles for objects and materials, including digital craft and data, are emerging, questioning where knowledge lies in and across the creation process and created outputs. What does this mean for the ‘thingness’ of creations? What does this mean for ownership? What does this mean for citations and referencing of design? How might this new fluidity challenge the ways we work and make? How can we design from, with, and by digital data?
Process: Outcomes of the Unintended: Success and failure are not often assigned equal importance, particularly in risk adverse contexts. However the role of serendipity and the ‘happy accident’ abound in both scientific discovery and creative practices. What is the value of failure? How does this translate into tactics of making? How can we celebrate the beauty of flaws and failure and what do we lose by not failing? What part has risk played in the creative outcome? Does practice make ‘perfect’?
Finishing: States of Completion: New forms of making challenge the concept of ‘uniqueness’ – what makes the ‘perfect’ and where does variation now lie? How are bespoke artefacts situated in our digital, on-demand, open-access world? When and where does the making process finish? How does this sit with the drive towards sustainable design and the circular economy? For this strand we also encourage design outcomes that are incomplete, or where the process has been re-wound.
Meaning: Belonging and Attachment: Nothing is designed in isolation. External factors infiltrate all of our creative processes and responses to situational contexts, consciously or otherwise. Geographical place, history or community all define a locus that influences practice. What are the roles and examples of histories of new making and artefacts? How can histories, presents, and futures be attached to designed items? What does it mean to belong, and how can site specific making afford a sense of attachment to place?
We strongly encourage participation from a wide range of Design disciplines including, but not limited to: Product, Industrial, Interaction, Service, Textile, Ceramics, Jewellery, Fashion, Architecture, Interior, Experience, Film, and those working at the intersection of disciplines such as Human-Computer Interaction or in more emergent fields and practices such as Synthetic Biology.

How to submit to RTD 2017
The submission process is made through the OpenConf system (check website soon for link to submission site, and we will email with the link to you in April) with the deadline for submission of abstracts being the 23rd June 2016. For more details on the process visit

Details of the full conference will follow later in the year.

If you have any questions at this stage please do get in touch.

Best wishes

Jane and the RTD Team

Jane Macdonald
Research Projects Coordinator
Design Informatics / Travel Behaviours Network

University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh College of Art
3rd Floor, Evolution House
78 Westport, Edinburgh, EH1 2LE
Tel: 0131 6515 749