Microsoft Research Design Day


Bear helmet prototype built using Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer. Designed by Christina Xu.

Bear helmet prototype built using Microsoft .NET Gadgeteer. Designed by Christina Xu.

During the last 20 years Microsoft Research has grown to be one of the largest and most respected corporate research facilities in the world. We have a full time staff of over 1000 scientists and researchers, spread worldwide, and a strong relationship with academia. We partner with universities, fund PhD students, hire interns and even co-create centres of excellence with academic institutions, like the Microsoft Research-INRIA Joint Centre.

Much of our focus during this time has been on computer science and technology. We would like to understand better how to extend our capabilities and relationships to better include design thinking, and to engage in a more mutually productive way with the academic design community. We have already created connections with many design schools through, for example, our annual Design Expo event associated with Faculty Summit, and we would like to develop such connections further.

To help with this effort, we have extended our annual Faculty Summit this year to include a third day event focused on design. For this, we are inviting leading experts for a day of talks and discussions. During this day we would like attendees to help build a better understanding across a number of areas including:

  • The differences between design research and computer science research.
  • The role that technology plays in design research, as a tool for expression, a tool for sketching, and as a source of inspiration.
  • Existing ways in which design academia engages with industry.


9.00 Welcome and Introduction
9.30 Keynote: Anthony Dunne, Royal College of Art (UK)
10.15 Keynote: Caroline Hummels, TU Eindhoven (Netherlands)
11.00 Break
11.15 Panel session 1: Designers, Technology, Craft & Materials

Focusing on sketching and craft in design and how technology is embraced in these activities
Chair: Lili Cheng, Microsoft Research (US)
Speakers: Simon d’Hénin, ENSCI/Les Ateliers (France); Trevor Duncan, Northumbria University (UK); Asta Roseway, Microsoft Research (US)

12.30 Lunch
13.30 Panel session 2: Design Academia & Industry

Focusing on examples of design and industry overlap
Chair: Bill Buxton, Microsoft Research (Canada)
Speakers: Durrell Bishop, Luckybite (UK); Dominique Sciamma, Strate College (France); Nicolas Villar, Microsoft Research (UK)

14.45 Break
15.00 Panel session 3: Design & Science

Focusing both on how design engages with the science, and the difference between scientific practice and design practice
Chair: Tim Regan, Microsoft Research (UK)
Speakers: Daniela Rosner, University of Washington (US); Carole Collet, Central St Martin’s (UK); Curtis Wong, Microsoft Research (US)

16.15 Keynote: Bill Buxton, Microsoft Research (Canada)
16:45 Close

Note: this event will take place in the Rainier Room in the Microsoft Conference Center (Building 33).


dunne.jpgTalk title to come

Anthony Dunne, Professor and Head of Programme
Design Interactions, Royal College of Art, London

Abstract: Design theorist Bjorn Franke has suggested that one of the main differences between science research and design research is that science focusses on existing reality while design explores realities that do not exist yet, and maybe never will. While the reasons for studying existing reality are clear, the benefits of studying non-existing realities are not always so obvious.

In my talk I will use research projects from the Design Interactions programme at the Royal College of Art to discuss the value of designing for imaginary realities and how the project outcomes can serve as ‘useful fictions’ for developing new perspectives on existing situations; as platforms for discussing preferable futures with both experts and non-experts; as catalysts for interdisciplinary imagining; and as a way of inventing new products.

Biography: “Anthony Dunne studied Industrial Design at the RCA before working at Sony Design in Tokyo. On returning to London he completed a PhD in Computer Related Design at the RCA. He was a founding member of the CRD Research Studio where he worked as a Senior Research Fellow leading industry and EU funded research projects. Anthony’s work with Fiona Raby uses design as a medium to stimulate discussion and debate amongst designers, industry and the public about the social, cultural and ethical implications of existing and emerging technologies. Dunne & Raby’s projects have been exhibited and published internationally and are in the permanent collections of MoMA, New York, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Dunne & Raby have worked with Sony UK, Panasonic, France Telecom and the Science Museum. Anthony and Fiona have written several books including Design Noir and Hertzian Tales (The MIT Press). Anthony was awarded the Sir Misha Black Award for Innovation in Design Education in 2009.”

hummels.jpgThe importance of craftsmanship and cooperation for designing interactive system, product and services

Caroline Hummels, Professor in Design Theory
Industrial Design Department, Eindhoven University of Technology

Abstract: What kind of society do we want technology to support and how to design for this society? In this presentation I’m going to elucidate our answer to this question. Starting with our theoretical foundation of phenomenology, I zoom in on two concepts that are introduced by Sennett about skills to sustain in everyday life: craftsmanship and cooperation. Regarding craftsmanship, we explore the quest to make physical things well. We consider making experienceable prototypes quintessential for design. But how can designers use new technological materials in an intuitive way to evoke experiences? And what kind of frameworks, methods and tools do designers need to design for interactive/intelligent systems, products and services? Regarding cooperation, we address how diversity of expertise can bring a society into existence. What are the consequences for cooperation with the shift from a knowledge to a transformation economy? And how does this shift shape the relationship between academia, more specifically design research, and industry, more specifically Microsoft Research? I will show with examples from education and design research our quest to answer these questions.

Biography: “Caroline Hummels is full professor of Design Theory at the department of Industrial Design, TU/e, as well as head of the Designing Quality in Interaction group. She studied Industrial Design Engineering at the Delft University of Technology (cum laude) and also obtained her PhD (cum laude) there. Her current activities concentrate on designing for personal, social and societal transformation, with a special focus on health and well-being. She designs for transformation based on the aesthetics of interaction with open, disruptive innovative systems within a societal context. Moreover, she is a designer-researcher with extensive experience in (interaction) design, education and research-trough design. She has developed various (research) prototypes and installations next to design methods, techniques and processes. She is a member of the steering committee of the Tangible Embedded, and Embodied Interaction Conference (TEI) as well as editorial board member of the International Journal of Design.”

Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher
Microsoft Research (Canada)