Rich Design Research Space

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 the design processes and design-led research.


There is a general trend toward increased complexity in design processes caused, on the 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 force the designer to confront new challenges.

The rich design 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 embraces many investigation types, from analytical to intuitive. The research space provides a flexible framework within which the complexity of research by design can be interrelated, discussed and reflected on.

Potentially, it can create a more involved role for the designer, one that allows for contributions toward the resolution of ever-pressing issues in society. This approach is currently one of a limited number of possible frameworks that the design professions can utilise to make a difference in a world of overwhelming complexity.

Creating a space

The images show how a particular rich design space was organised.

The design research process is heavily based on design visualisation, design sketches and suggestions, and abstract and technical-sociological information. Therefore, the gigamap is a natural component of the rich design research space; it is displayed on the walls of the physical design space and is represented on the project’s blog.

First, the research space makes large amounts of information accessible, forms dynamic and changeable social configurations of project teams and encourages changes to the media, team and format throughout the design process to propel the project’s development.

The first two pictures show the same space from two different angles. This was organised for group work that later was broken up into individual projects. The images show how the physical part of the rich design space was organised. Still, the rich design space also comprises social space, a digital media space and more abstract conceptions such as the cultural space and conceptual space of possible design solutions.

The concept is based on multiple uses of media representations, and it includes the physical space, the social space and the digital space in which the design process and its research component take place. Strategies such as media switching are central – inclusive of a media process that interlinks different data representations and where the switching between media changes and accelerates the design process.

rich design space walls and people
rich design space walls

Photos: Henriette Sagvolden Marki, 2014

rich design space table

Photo: Birger Sevaldson, 2021

Rich Design Research Space Gallery


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