It has been just over a decade that Department of Design, IIT Guwahati made a formal foray into Design research with the commencement of a Doctoral program in Design in the year 2002 – an important first initiative among any HEI in India. Anticipating the emerging landscape of convergence of cross disciplinary domains that are to significantly influence a technology led domain, it sets an Indic focus of inquiry into design research domains that included design thinking; design methods; cross-cultural influences in user centred design; human-computer interaction; human factors and digital human modelling, culture and visual design studies and design management.
The design researchers spent the initial decade in the ‘quite zone’. The outcome of their research studies and findings is now published in various design led journals and design conferences. Today, thirty-four researchers, on completion of their research, have received the doctoral degree in Design from IIT Guwahati. This has given impetus to candidates from other design schools, practicing professionals and teaching faculty to look at the institute to pursue their aspirations in doctoral and post-doctoral studies in Design research. The strength of the design researchers on the IIT Guwahati campus has witnessed a significant increase with eighty candidates pursuing their doctoral degree in Design.
The Design research community in India is witnessing steady growth with other leading HEI in India also commencing the Doctoral program in Design. These include the School of Design IDC, IIT Bombay; IIITDM, Jabalpur; Design program at IIT Kanpur; Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing (CPDM), IISc. Bangalore; and National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. These form the leading institutions who formally offer a Doctoral program in Design. These developments are indeed a healthy sign. These institutions will make significant contributions in enriching Design research in our country so rich in variety and diversity.
The commencement of the Design Researchers Forum is a welcome and timely initiative for the growing community of Design researchers, academics and practicing professionals in India. Addressing the inherently felt need and potential of the Design research community, it aims to create a platform for sharing research initiatives and giving a voice to design knowledge sharing among the design research community in India. It is heartening to see that the next generation of Design researchers is driving this initiative. It augurs well to sustain this healthy trend.