Design Thinking Research Symposia

The series of symposia was initiated by Nigel Cross with Norbert Roozenburg and Kees Dorst at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, in 1991, with what was initially expected to be a one-off international meeting on ‘Research in Design Thinking’. But the content and format of that meeting were felt by the participants to be so good as to warrant more of the same. So a second meeting was also held in Delft, in 1994, focused on the use of protocol analysis as a research tool for analysing design activity. This became known as the 'Delft Protocols Workshop'. For the first time in design research, a common data set (videotapes of both individual and team design activity) was provided to researchers around the world, for their own analyses, presented at the workshop.

A third meeting was held at the Istanbul Technical University, Turkey, in 1996, on the topic of descriptive models of design, and the fourth meeting was held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, USA, in 1999, on the topic of design representation. It was there that the organisers introduced the term ‘Design Thinking Research Symposium’ as the generic title for the series. The fifth meeting was again in Delft, in 2001, on the topic of design in context, and developing an interdisciplinary approach to studying design in a broader social context.

The sixth symposium, at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, 2003, returned to somewhere near the focus of the original meeting in Delft in 1991, on the nature and the nurture of expert performance in design. This workshop meeting brought together a relatively small, international group of active researchers. Throughout this series of symposia, this workshop format has been found to be a successful way of synthesising the contributions of an international community, of reporting current work, and of identifying and promoting necessary further research.

A seventh meeting DTRS7 on analysing design meetings was held at Central St. Martin's College, University of the Arts, London in 2007. This was again a small, focused workshop meeting, and again providing researchers worldwide with a common data set for analysis - this time video recordings of meetings within architectural and engineering product design teams.

A meeting adopting the same principle of analysing a common data set was held as a National Science Foundation Workshop at the University of California, Irvine, USA, in February 2010, on 'Studying Professional Software Design'. The data provided were video recordings of pairs of software designers tackling the same design task.

The eighth DTRS meeting, 'Interpreting Design Thinking' was again held in Sydney, Australia, in October 2010, and invited interdisciplinary contributions linking design to other disciplines. This meeting acknowledged the growing role of design thinking in business, industry, social services and elsewhere.

DTRS9 'Articulating Design Thinking' was held at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, in April 2012. Contributors to the meeting analysed different responses to a given design task related to inclusive design.

The tenth meeting will be held at Purdue University, Indiana, USA, in October 2014, focusing on analysis of design review meetings.

The series of meetings has produced a substantial set of publications (see below) in books and journals, with significant research results, and has helped to foster an international community of scholars and researchers focused on design cognition.


The published output from the symposia series includes:

DTRS1. Cross, N., Dorst, K. and Roozenburg, N. (eds.) (1992) Research in Design Thinking, Delft University Press, Delft, The Netherlands.

DTRS2. Cross, N., Christiaans, H., and Dorst, K. (eds.) (1996) Analysing Design Activity, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK.

Dorst, K. (ed.) (1995) ‘Analysing Design Activity’, special issue of Design Studies, vol. 16, no. 2.

DTRS3. Akin, Ö. (ed.) (1997) ‘Descriptive Models of Design’, special issue of Design Studies, vol. 18, no. 4.

Akin, Ö. (ed.) (1998) ‘Models of Design’, special issue of Automation in Construction, vol. 7, no. 2/3.

DTRS4. Goldschmidt, G. and Porter, W. (eds.) (2004) Design Representation, Springer Verlag, London.

Goldschmidt, G. and Porter, W. (eds.) (2000) ‘Visual Design Representation’, special issue of Design Studies, vol. 21, no. 5.

Porter, W. and Goldschmidt, G. (eds.) (2001) 'Design Representation', special issue of Automation in Construction, vol. 10, no. 6.

DTRS5. Lloyd, P. and Christiaans, H. (eds.) (2001) Designing in Context, Delft University Press, Delft, The Netherlands.

Lloyd, P. (ed.) (2003) ‘Designing in Context ’, special issue of Design Studies, vol. 24, no. 3.

DTRS6. Cross, N. and Edmonds, E. (eds.) (2003) Expertise in Design, Creativity and Cognition Press, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia.

Cross, N. (ed.) (2004) ‘Expertise in Design’, special issue of Design Studies, vol. 25, no. 5.

DTRS7. McDonnell, J. and Lloyd, P. (eds.) (2009) About: Designing - Analysing Design Meetings, Taylor & Francis, London, UK.

McDonnell, J. and Lloyd, P. (eds.) (2009) 'Analysing Design Conversations', special issue of CoDesign, vol. 5, no. 1.

Lloyd, P. and McDonnell, J. (eds.) (2009) 'Values in the Design Process', special issue of Design Studies, vol. 29, no. 2.

SPSD. Petre, M., van der Hoek, A. and Baker, A. (eds.) (2010) 'Studying Professional Software Design', special issue of Design Studies, vol. 31, no. 6.

DTRS8. Stewart, S. (ed.) (2011) 'Interpreting Design Thinking', special issue of Design Studies, vol. 32, no. 6.

DTRS9. Rodgers, P. (ed.) (2012) Articulating Design Thinking, Libri Publishing, Faringdon, UK.

Rodgers, P. (ed.) (2013) 'Articulating Design Thinking', special issue of Design Studies, vol. 34, no. 4.


DTRS6 Expertise in Design

DTRS7 Design Meetings Protocols

DTRS8 Interpreting Design Thinking

DTRS9 Articulating Design Thinking


Page Last Updated: 5 June, 2012