Design body launches European conference

AN ACADEMIC conference focusing purely on design is being organised by The European Academy of Design, a new networking body for Europe-based design academics.

The academy has been set up “as a club for design academics and to provide a forum for people to present papers”, as well as to form international collaborations between top academics, says founder member Tim Jones, research fellow in design at Salford University.

It makes its debut at Salford University on 11 April with a three-day design conference, claimed by the organisers to be the first such event solely for academics. Fifty speakers will present papers on a wide range of design disciplines, with delegates invited to participate in discussions following presentation.

The conference – which will become a biennial event held at different European venues – is the brainchild of a group of design academics including Salford research fellow in design Dr Rachel Cooper, Margaret Bruce from UMIST’s School of Management Design, Elizabeth Svengren of the Swedish Industrial Design Foundation and Daniel Hauser from the French Institute of European Design.

Keynote speakers at Salford will be academy members Wendy Powell, interim director of the Design Council’s education and training foundation, designer and author James Pilditch, and Earl Powell, director of the Design Management Institute, Boston, US. Of the 150 academy members expected to attend, a third will present studies in areas such as product design, graphics, management and design education.

The academy is applying to the European Community Research Programmes for funding and will rely on membership fees for running costs. Its founding group will administrate future activities, which will include the biennial conference, as well as its follow-up newsletter and journal.

“Until now there has not been an academic conference with design at its core – it has usually been crammed into a secular area,” explains Jones. “We’ve received membership applications from all over Europe.”

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