Mission Statement

DesignInquiry is a non-profit educational organization devoted to researching design issues in intensive team-based gatherings. An alternative to the design conference, it brings together practitioners from disparate fields to generate new work and ideas around a single topic.

DesignInquiry selects a topic to explore at an intensive gathering of presentations, discussions, and workshops. We invite professionals, educators and students of diverse disciplines to contribute to the topic in any way they think is appropriate. We share these responses in publications, exhibitions and presentations, binding the outcomes into a free-to-download boost of information, meant to inspire and inform its readers.

DesignInquiry is an alternative to the one-way delivery of a standard conference: each participant contributes and is equally responsible for the quality of the gathering; a collaborative production where we both learn and teach the aesthetics and ethics that are central to Design (and life). Days become nights; the program doesn’t stop when dinner is served.

I. First, DesignInquiry brings together thinkers and makers from diverse fields to research and identify an urgent and timely topic.

Responding to design’s increasing interdisciplinarity, DesignInquiry encourages collaboration across fields, including, but not limited to, graphic design, new media design, industrial design, architecture and interior design, landscape and urban design, as well as the visual and performing arts, sciences and humanities. DesignInquiry welcomes participants regardless of professional or academic affiliation or status. Responding to design’s increasing sphere of influence, DesignInquiry encourages research in the form of production, analysis, criticism, or theorizing in a variety of media in order to probe design’s relationship to contemporary culture and culture’s relationship to contemporary design.

II. Second, DI organizes team-based gatherings around the chosen topic in which each participant contributes and is equally responsible for the content.

DesignInquiry is founded on a principle of full immersion—in a topic, in a group, in a location—and a belief in the unexpected convergence—of ideas, of personalities, of spaces both physical and intellectual. Each participant takes a turn on the stage, in the wings, in the audience.

Though each DI gathering is organized around a chosen topic, the schedule is intentionally fluid. Program content evolves according to the interests, needs, and dynamics of the group. Innovation, improvisation, and accommodation are required of all participants as they inform, shape, and respond to presentations, workshops, discussions, assignments, even meals. As participants design, produce, and consume breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they digest the research through non-stop discussions and debates. Meals are not just sustenance and celebration; they are part of DesignInquiry’s work.

III. Third, DesignInquiry publishes, exhibits, and presents work generated by its topics and gatherings, sharing its outcomes to inform and inspire all forms of design practice.

DesignInquiry’s topics and team-based gatherings generate work for DesignInquiry publications, exhibitions, and presentations. Conceived as a collaborative laboratory, our publications and events give gathering participants and our other contributors, an opportunity to test their research, articulate their conclusions, confront new questions, and commence a dialogue with the broader design community. DesignInquiry’s publications and events program is a vehicle for sharing design knowledge and shaping design discourse.