Institute for Design Research and Appliance

The Institute for Design Research and Appliance (IfDRA), based at the German Design Council, was founded in 2020. The aim of the institute is to provide a forum for all areas of design research. In this sense, the IfDRA sees itself as an interface as well as a cooperation and networking partner for workshops, conferences and research projects. Furthermore, by conducting and publishing studies and surveys, the institute aims to create a continuously growing, valid database on current topics and developments in design and design research.

What is design research?

From our point of view, there is no simple and unambiguous definition of the term design research; rather, it is used divergently in the various fields of design. Only if design is understood in general terms as the questioning of existing things - in order to improve them for people, society and the world - could design research be defined in its most basic sense as the questioning of questioning.

In contrast, a more differentiated distinction can be made between theoretical and practical research. Theoretical design research is academic in nature and encompasses both basic research and cross-disciplinary research in other scientific fields such as history, computer science or sociology. Practical, application-oriented design research takes place both in companies and, increasingly, in higher education. Here, too, the research fields are broadly based and range from materials research and the exploration of new subject areas to customer research or user testing.

Target group

Based on this diversity of definitions, four groups emerge as the primary domains of design research for the IfDRA. As a mediator and consultant, the IfDRA builds bridges between the different representatives from theory (science, teaching) and economic practice (users, designers, entrepreneurs).