Brunel University is the latest higher education body to launch an initiative aimed at advancing design through cross-disciplinary collaboration.
It joins Central St Martins College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art in launching specialist research centres that draw on science, engineering and technology to foster innovation in design.
Brunel University is hoping to set itself apart by focusing on user-centred design, and has devised an education and research programme that will explore how methods used in psychology, physics and technology can be applied to product and industrial product design.
The Human Centred Design Institute, led by Professor Joseph Giacomin, head of design and perception enhancement systems research at Brunel, and Professor Neville Stanton, a member of the DTI Human Factors National Advisory Committee, will pull together a host of design consultancies and practitioners, academic researchers, engineers and scientists, to develop ‘design processes for the 21st century’.
Giacomin says that the centre is being funded through a ‘full spectrum’ of grants from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the European Union and a number of companies.
Over the next three years the centre is to publish design textbooks and will organise seminars and an international conference on user-centred design, to be held in London in early 2009.
A newly created one-year MA course in user-centred design launches this autumn, and undergraduate design students will have access to the centre’s teaching resources.
Under the auspices of the EU-funded Marie Curie Research & Training Network, the centre will also host up to 16 PhD students in design.