Professor Klaus Krippendorff was invited by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (the German NSF) and the Berlin University of the Arts to participate in an international round table discussion of the status and future of design research, March 21-22, in Berlin. Thirty internationally prominent scholars found themselves in often heated debates on how design research differed from research done by established disciplines, the role of established theories in design processes, and which design research methods should be developed and taught in academic programs towards the Ph.D.
The scholars were presented with the following challenge: It is well known that virtually all scientific predictions of technological developments and attending social changes are notoriously unreliable. The reason is simple. Designers cause innovations that are essential for a culture to remain viable and society to progress, but they also render the resulting social practices unpredictable. Therefore, design research cannot possibly rely on data from the past. It needs to develop compelling arguments from what target communities are willing to learn and inhabit in the future. This calls for taking ethical responsibilities, an epistemology that deviates from that of traditional academic disciplines, and the development of narratively grounded methodologies. The round table did not solve such momentous conceptual problems but directed the design community toward that future.