The Rich Design Research Space


A Rich Design Space (Photo Birger Sevaldson 2012)


The Rich Design Research Space is an inclusive methodological framework and scaffold for research-by-design. The Rich Design Research Space especially addresses the issue of richness in design processes and design-led research.

There is a general trend towards increased complexity in design processes, caused on one hand by the increasing depth and width in the use of design media and methods, and on the other hand by the increasing complexity and interdependency of society due to globalisation. These issues confront the designer-researcher with new challenges. 

 The Rich Research Space concept takes into account the physical, social, and cultural spaces, and the virtual and visual media spaces in which the research-by-design takes place. The concept takes the form of a specific integral approach to design, and a holistic theoretical mindset. It embraces many types of investigation, from analytical to intuitive. The Rich Research Space provides a flexible framework within which the complexity of research-by-design can be interrelated, discussed, and reflected upon. Potentially, it can create a more involved role for the designer-researcher, a role that allows contributions towards the resolution of ever more pressing issues in our society. This approach is currently one of a limited number of possible frameworks that the design professions can utilize in order to make a difference in a world of at times overwhelming complexity.

Here are two images that show how a particular Rich Design Space was organized:


Henriette sagvolden marki rich design space 1 2014


Henriette sagvolden marki rich design space 2 2014

The pictures show the same space from two different angles. This was organized for a group work that later broke up into individual projects. The images show how the physical part of the Rich Design space was orgnized but one needs to be aware that the Rich design Space also comprices of a social space, a digital media space and more abstract conceptions like the cultural space and a conceptual space of possible design solutions. (Photos: Henriette Sagvolden Marki 2014)


The Rich Design Research Space is based on multiple use of media representations and it includes the physical space, the social space and digital space in which the design process and its research component takes place. Strategies like media switching are central. The concept is based on a media process interlink where the switching of media will have a changing and in most cases an accelerating effect on the design process.

The Rich Design Research Process is heavily based on design visualisation both of design sketches and suggestions but also of abstract,p and technical-sociological information. Therefor the GIGA-map is a natural component of the Rich Design Research Space. It is displayed on the walls of the physical design space and it is represented on the project blog.

The Rich Design Research Space first of all makes large amounts of information accessible, forms dynamic and changeable social configuration of project teams and encourages changes to the media, the team and the format throughout the design process to propel its development.



Rich design spaces in the master studio at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (Video: Birger Sevaldson 2014)



Below are some articles that discuss the issue.


Why should we and how can we make the design process more complex?A new look at the systems approach in design. Birger Sevaldson, In Shaping Futures, ed. Marianne Lie Berg, Oslo, Oslo School of Architecture and Design, 2009 Order a copy at the front desk of AHO: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This article discusses the importance of changing design educations so that they are more capable to deal with very complex real life issues.

A Systems Approach to Design Learning, Birger Sevaldson Systemisches Denken und integrales Entwerfen, ed. Achim Menges, Präsident der Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach am Main, Offenbah, Germany. 2008 Order a copy at the front desk of AHO:

Rich Research Space Birger Sevaldson in Form Akademisk:, 2008

In this article the importance of a complex and multi-medial design space for design in complex settings is introduced.