Research Journal from L'École de design Nantes Atlantique

23 April 2011   Publications

CADI #2 “Co-Creation” is out

How is it that a project-based activity resembling more a practice than a science and founded on empirical case studies manages to generate knowledge? How can research in design and research efforts on design conducted by scholars in other disciplines enrich each other? The current issue of CADI, our research journal, settles into the continuity of these reflections via three contributions pertaining to the topic of crossdisciplining.

CADI #2 Co creation issue

Three complementary approaches from theory to practice… and vice versa

Jocelyne Le Bœuf*, Design Historian, sheds light on her specialty by referencing the major thought movements of which hers has become a part over history. She also addresses the current multidisciplinary research trends, and delves deeper into the role that design history plays not only in understanding our material environment, but also in designer practices.

Gilles Rougon, Design Manager at Électricité de France (EDF), elaborates upon design transversality within a company where the primary product is immaterial.

Eloi Le Mouël, Sociologist within the design department of the RATP (Paris City Transit Authority), underlines during an interview the similarities and differences between an anthropological approach with regard to “mobility flows” and the design project practice from his standpoint as a researcher in the field of social science.

*J. Le Bœuf is also Director of Studies at L’École de design Nantes Atlantique

The last printed edition… for a better visibility online

This issue will be a crucial step in the history of our research journal: it will be the last printed edition. From now on, essays, articles and interviews will be available online on this blog, with a fully bilingual content.

Read CADI Research Journal #2 on Scribd or download CADI in PDF format from our main corporate website.

Graphic design & layout: Audrey Templier & Yves Mestrallet for éditions MeMo

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12 April 2010   Billets

Design & Research

In October 2009 Christian Guellerin, Managing Director of L’École de design spoke at the symposium organized by the International Association of Societies of Design Research in Seoul. Upon his return he brings to the fore the dos and don’ts of research in design and what it must do to grow into a true scientific discipline

I have recently given a lecture at the symposium organized by the IASDR – “International Association of Societies of Design Research” 2009* – a research-oriented conference presenting the work of a large number of researchers and universities from all over the world. Many vibrant debates took place and much knowledge was produced during this wide-scoped event.

However I was puzzled by such a profusion of information about “research” and “design”, two terms many of us are striving to bring closer.
In doing so we must be wary not to bite our own tail like business schools, who call “marketing research” quantitative or qualitative studies often limited to statistic charts interpreted in a not-so-scientific manner that lacks the method and depth of sociological research. Why naming “marketing research” activities that are no more and no less than the very practice of “marketing”?

Why naming “design research” all reflections about creation and innovation?

Can design be recognized as a full-fledged scientific discipline?

Design is but an emerging discipline that is not very visible yet in the field of research. Some take advantage of this state of things to engage in studies pertaining to sociology, psychology, educational theory or hard sciences and claim they are doing “design research.” To me this working method is irrelevant and will not help design be accepted as a research discipline.

Along the same line using the term “design research” to refer to projects carried out by professionals does not seem very relevant to me either.

The central issue of this debate is the very nature of design. Can design, as a practice, really be defined as a science? The criteria to answer this question have not been decided upon yet. And it harms the image of “design research” to rank behind this label initiatives stemming from other disciplines, innovation-oriented initiatives, or new production processes applied to products developed according to the usual methods.

We must be cautious here. Otherwise we run the risk of blurring the message conveyed by a young discipline – design – still in the process of defining its very identity and of proving its legitimacy on the academic level. Doing “debased” sociology, or debased psychology to try and codify “design-induced emotions” is not a serious way of tackling the issue.

We must aim at centering research on a specific unique field based on a language of representation and on an interface linking all the knowledge produced by human sciences or hard sciences with the social and economical issues ruling the world we live in. Design is a language and an interface that brings human beings, ideas and knowledge together to shape a better world for tomorrow.

If we want to promote design as a science we must beware not to mix everything up just because design is all over the place and because conducting activities involving reflection makes one feel important.

Christian Guellerin, Managing Director of L’École de design.

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24 March 2010   Essays

Where Do We Stand in the World of Higher Education?

Publishing a research journal, redefining the postgraduate curriculum with a focus on contemporary social and economic issues, organizing symposiums, etc. Here’s a detailed overview of our research-oriented objectives and actions…

An article written by Jocelyne Le Boeuf.

Our will to evolve curriculums stems from a project-grounded method, a will to knit close ties between all higher education institutions (universities, private institutes, etc.) and to go global: basically the guidelines advocated by the PRES (Pôle de Research et d’Enseignement Supérieur) Université Nantes-Angers-Le Mans which our school has been a member of since November 2009.

The Main Lines of our development

A widespread academic & industrial network

Because it has been has acted in the academic scene for many years our school has become proficient in setting up projects with companies and business clusters. We have also widely developed our international activities. In 2007 – Christian Guellerin, Managing Director – was elected President of Cumulus, a worldwide network that gathers 140 institutions of art, design and media. A subsidiary was opened in Qingdao, China, for more than 2 years and a new one is about to be launched in Bangalore, India in September 2010 with Srishti School of Art and Design.

Topic-oriented programs rooted in social and economic issues

To enhance and strengthen our postgraduate curriculum we created new topic-oriented Master’s programs with a focus on social and economic issues or on a specific field of application. Our aim is to foster a human-centered, ethically responsible kind of design in tune with the ongoing economic globalization.

More information about our Master’s programs

Training designers-managers

Our school proudly aims to do away with the educational patterns that prevail in applied arts without rejecting their founding principles in doing so, and to implement courses that train designers for leadership and management careers by teaching them high-level skills – both theoretical and practical – and an expertise in one of the available topics.

Lecture-type classes and projects are taught and carried out as part of prospective partnerships with business clusters. They feed on our interaction with research labs run by universities and top-tier institutions.

Inauguration de l'antenne de L'École de design à Qingdao en Chine, septembre 2008.

Enhancing Curriculums with Research

Turning design into a true science

The designers’ innovative approach to projects is more and more acknowledged by industrials, tertiary service providers and all professionals willing to change the world. Our field of action is faced with many great challenges, not the least of which is the need to gain recognition in the world of research and to be acknowledged as a true research discipline.

“Putting the artistic and technical knowledge and questions derived from human sciences and management into practice by carrying out projects.”

Mindflow par Toni Da Luz

Design education traditionally lies in transferring hands-on knowledge that reaches beyond university teachings and un

iversity scientific norms. However, over the past few years, traditional patterns were greatly shaken up by the emergence of new design professions born from the digital revolution. International research initiatives have been implemented to make design into a science. The research method they go by is called “project-research.” Higher education players are more and more concerned with bridging the gap between theory and practice. Learning to handle projects by actually handling projects – the very keystone for design institutions – implies taking in the issues inh

erent in the interaction between theory and practice. Artistic and technical knowledge, the knowledge and questions derived from human sciences and management are put into practice by students as they carry out long-term projects. This chemistry is the very key to creativity, the only way to acquire the ability to handle the complex methods underlying the design process. Teaching objectives (which know-how and knowledge must the student acquire? Through which methods?) are part of a project-induced dynamics that gradually takes shape in several steps that will each raise new questions and face students with fresh choices they shall justify.

The “research-project” method

The research-project method is grounded in the great emphasis put on projects in all design school curriculums. Followers of this method do not only consider design as a profession. By implementing this method our institution aims to take a research stance based on scientificity criteria that will enrich design education and the economic fields where design applies.

To take this research stance, we are willing to train our faculty and to set up collaborations with research labs from universities and top tier higher education institutions. We are positive much innovation and knowledge will arise from the implementation of cross-disciplinary teams where the creativity and innovation ability dear to design projects will collide.

Publishing the research journal of L’École de design, CADI

An editorial and academic adventure


Our research activities on the international scene mainly rely on our Director’s and faculty’s participation in symposiums, conferences and publications all over the world. Our institution takes an active part in organizing research seminars and publishing research-oriented documents.

A bilingual French-English research journal, CADI, was co-founded in 2008 by the International Development Department and the Direction of Studies (editorial coordination by Frédéric Degouzon, Jocelyne Le Bœuf and Morgane Saysana, translation by Morgane Saysana).

To this day three issues have been published and widely distributed among the Cumulus network. Two of these issues are collections of interviews with experts who supervised our fifth-year students. They bring to the fore the virtuous, fruit-bearing interactions between design and sciences: human sciences and engineering sciences.

- CADI, 2008, Experience Design, articles by David Bihanic, PhD in arts and design, Paris 1 University (La Sorbonne), researcher at the laboratoire d’Esthétique théorique et appliquée, Project studio director at Les Ateliers-Paris Design Institute and Yann Le Guennec, digital artist, head of the research unit in Virtual Reality.

- CADI 2009, Knowledge Transfer(s) 1, interviews with Frédéric Kaplan, researcher in artificial intelligence at the Ecole polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), Marie-Thérèse Neuilly, researcher in sociology and psycho-sociology, Annie Hubert, anthropologist, Pascale Gauthier, researcher in pharmaceutics, Bruno Bachimont, Head of the scientific department of the INA (French National Audiovisual Institute).

- CADI 2010, Knowledge Transfer(s) 2, interviews with Laurence Nigay, researcher in man-machine interfaces, Stephen Boucher, consultant for the think tank “Notre Europe,” Henri Samier, Associate Professor at ISTIA, University of Angers, Céline Gallen, researcher in marketing at IAE IEMN, University of Nantes who is now a member of our research group on new eating habits.

CADI Hors série 2009/Special Issue 2009
Jocelyne Le Boeuf,

Director of Studies at L’École de design Nantes Atlantique

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Tags: Essays