Design Research as part of Research and Development

Design Research in R&D

In our understanding, research and design belong together just as much as research and development, because research is already a very essential part of the design process. As designers, we not only develop possible answers in the innovation process; our human- and user-oriented perspective also helps to systematically open up new ideas and possibilities.

Crucially, design research is practice-oriented, takes a different approach and asks different questions than other disciplines, going beyond mere technological or economic feasibility. At the same time, our methods help to deal with uncertainty in a more structured way, to reduce complexity and to specify development. Strategic Design is thus a valuable addition to existing innovation approaches, and pre-development or the accompaniment of industrial and development projects are a natural part of Iconstorm’s DNA.

Bild: Der Designprozess nach dem British Design Council
Practice-oriented approach
Design seen as research is first and foremost a specific way of doing things. Design methods complement the research process with user-oriented modes of action that are suitable not only for problem solving, but also for problem identification. In the research and development process, we can use them to systematically explore spaces of possibility and identify previously undiscovered opportunities.

Design Research in practice

Research, applied

Design understood as research is first and foremost a way of acting. Design helps in technology research and idea development as well as in the consolidation, explorative concretization and qualitative evaluation of development approaches. By systematically staking out and exploring spaces of possibility, we unearth relevant information about customers, their values, and contexts of use. In the process, we thereby help to avoid blind spots and to specify the “fuzzy front end” of development. Our methodology, which is oriented towards results and the creation of artifacts, is thus a helpful approach for developing better products more quickly, because sketches, models and prototypes enable abstract ideas to quickly take shape.

Image: Dimensions of Design Research
Dimensions of Design Research
Liz Sanders presents the field of design research in digital products on two dimensions. The methods that are applied move between two poles of approaches (design-led vs. research-led) and mindsets (expert vs. participatory mindset). The role of users also varies from passive test subjects to active partners in the co-creation process.

Some of our projects

Support in R&D

We support the research and development process in numerous customer projects to uncover new innovation opportunities. This often refers not only to new technologies, but also to requirements, workflows or methodology. As a design agency, we understand how to embrace the new and take the initiative in these contexts. Our strategic design approach is based on the needs of our clients and uncovers previously hidden potential. In addition to client projects, we also regularly participate in publicly funded research initiatives that foster economic development.


Selection of publicly funded projects

[caption id="attachment_3628" align="alignnone" width="1600"] CIP-Med – Cross Innovation in the Medical Technology Industry
Together with our network partner Steinbeis Innovation, we investigated the prerequisites and structures of cross-industry innovation in the field of medical technology and developed a practical framework for integrating methodological approaches. Among other things, we developed a simple process model that is strongly oriented toward practice and enables SMEs to systematically investigate cross-innovation potential at the product portfolio level. The CIP-Med project was funded by the Ministry of Education (BMBF) from 2017 to 2018.

Bild: Prozessframework Industriedesign
A2I – Augmented Auditive Intelligence A2I

The BMBF research program “Adaptive Technologies for Society – Intelligent Interaction of Humans and Artificial Intelligence” focuses on the role that humans play in the interaction with AI systems. Starting in 2021, together with six partners, we are investigating possibilities for the user-centered development of a wearable multisensor system that will enable AI-supported complex medical diagnoses. Concepts for using the system to improve audiological, cardiological and occupational medical care processes will be developed together with patients and medical professionals.


Integrate Design Methods in Research and Development

Design Research with Iconstorm

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