Fields of Research

According to some reference authors (Labrada and Álvarez, 2020) "Field of Research". can be defined as a field of action which acts on the object intended to transform, in our case design itself as a knowledge framework.

At the same time the object, i.e. design as an area of knowledge, is affected by the research problem or research problems, which in turn translate into research fields.

In the short and medium term, ESDA will organise research in the following areas five areas likely to be reviewed depending on the future formalisation of the research itself by the administrations.

Field of Research in Design for Social Innovation

Design for social change aims to have a positive impact on the communities in and with which it works in order to transform them, making them more inclusive, equitable, just and innovative. The term design for social change is ambiguous, but far from setting boundaries, it opens the range to social design, design for social innovation, inclusive design or activist design.

From the most timid beginnings to larger and more complex projects, ESDA collaborates with public and private institutions, both locally and internationally, to carry out this type of educational experience. The research on design for social change at ESDA was based on the analysis of these experiences from different theoretical approaches. However, we do not wish it to be limited to this, but to remain open to any form of search for knowledge related to design for social change in the broad sense to which we refer.

ESDA became part of the international DESIS network in 2022. A network of more than 60 schools and universities working and researching design for social innovation and sustainability. This implies that our centre not only produces and teaches design for social change, but also conducts research in this field. For all these reasons, we express our will that design for social change has its own entity as a field of research in our institution and that, from this field of research, we will work in this direction.

Field of Research in materials, processes and technologies for design

The aim and objectives of the field is to experiment, investigate and engage with a discipline that attends to the new roles of designers in their relationship to materiality and the problems derived from it.

Numerous authors point out that these new roles include the growing relevance of design in its proposal of a new material dimension. Actions that are born in many cases from the maker movements and from the transdisciplinarity with which the discipline is understood and which allows us to acquire other visions in fields that have traditionally been dominated by engineering and materials science.

In this context, research from a design perspective points to the effects of decision-making on the conceptual models of sustainability and environmental impact, and so it seems necessary that our analytical work should be more closely aligned with the frameworks for action at the end of the first third of the 21st century, with their corresponding interventions in the academic sphere.

At the same time, the 21st century has brought about synergies between new processes (manufacturing, ideation, etc.), materials and technologies with an enormous impact on the discipline. Changes that, from a local perspective, have engaged us in the development of new analyses.

Finally, the techno-scientific nature of the field, always from a design perspective, should not be exclusive in order to be able to assess the social implications. It would therefore be about research that, from a horizontal (expanding towards other fields and areas of design) and vertical (theoretical and practical developments on an inter-institutional level) character, allows the transformation and transfer of the curricular sphere and, beyond these terms, of the socio-industrial dimension.

Research field in pedagogies and didactics of design

The teaching and transmission of design thinking is itself an area for research. Design pedagogy is concerned with the means of instruction, i.e. the important topics to be taught, how students assimilate fundamental principles and beliefs, and how we assess learning. A fundamental aspect of design pedagogy is to analyse the gap that exists between the idealised methodologies in teaching processes and the reality of design and creative processes in the professional field. In the same sense, didactics, as part of pedagogy, is the discipline that studies design methods and techniques, as well as the activities that help us to transfer disciplinary knowledge to the academic context.

The discipline of design, due to its specific peculiarities, requires a learning system that enhances creative skills. The academic study of pedagogy and didactics in this field requires a point of view that approaches research from the transfer of knowledge with an expanded perspective.

As an institution we must reflect on the competences to be acquired and continue to deepen our pedagogical singularities and actions from teaching/learning in the practice of design. The objective is therefore to introduce a formalised system, an analysis that highlights a practical perspective in the study of tools, methodologies, activities in accordance with the project nature of our field of knowledge, as well as to confirm theoretical studies that complement and contribute knowledge to the extended design community.

Field of Research in Design History, Theory, Critique and Management

Research into the History of Design from multiple and varied disciplinary approaches, in relation to the factors that affect the design produced at each historical moment (formal, aesthetic, social, economic, political, technological, cultural...) and from a broad perspective, although focusing especially on the local context linked to the territory.

By territory we mean, in addition to Aragon itself, the Mediterranean area and the Latin American focus, to which we are united by a common past and a common artistic and cultural heritage, and even a way of understanding life.

Design theory as an argumentative basis for defining and developing, through analysis and logical reasoning, the fundamentals of design, both basic and complex, past and present principles that structure the thoughts and patterns of evolutionary, systematised and visually literate design. A relationship between scientific subjects, information and communication, and also graphic heritage; covering both methods and processes, as well as production and business. Diverse contexts, linked to users and experiences, the rethinking of design itself, and its relationship with the world and its knowledge.

Analysis and interpretation of design criticism from the field of design history, and its aspect of design criticism from a gender perspective.
Study and analysis of Design Management in organisations and the relationship between design and the social, professional and business environment. Research on the most current mechanisms of legal protection of designs and brands, within the fields of industrial and intellectual property applied to the object of study.

Field of Research in future perspectives of design (future designs)

The dawn of the 21st century is a time of manifest instability in which multiple transformations are taking place. These changes represent a framework of uncertainty about the future that is undoubtedly affecting and will increasingly affect the new roles that designers have to adopt in society.

Under the generic name of futures designThe aim is to develop a field of study that encompasses non-conventional design perspectives, such as the speculative design, critic, fiction y transformative, narrative, and many others that, with different meanings, share in any case common perspectives on design as a reflexive strategy. Approaches to the phenomenon of design that address those future social changes that, although in many cases are linked to new technologies, are not so much about the search for solutions of a practical nature, but rather about "prototyping scenarios" that allow analysis and open up the debate to what we want to be, above and beyond what others want us to be. Scenarios in which objects or artefacts project fantasy contexts that have often been related to futuristic cinema, science fiction or even horror films, and in which there is not so much a particular design problem, but rather a situation or an "environment".

The aim of this field is therefore to open up to new research that, under these terms, places ESDA within the parameters of these design currents. In recent years, these currents have been arousing enormous interest not only in the field of design, but also in apparently disparate spheres such as companies, governmental institutions, etc.

It is therefore a bet and a proposal for the future, an open field for research that can gather multiple perspectives from different areas, both its own and in collaboration with other agencies that pose challenges on these issues.


If you have any questions, please contact:

Research Coordinator

Francisco Serón Torrecilla

DESIS LAB Coordinator

Cecilia Casas Romero

Head of External Relations

Jara Cordero Gómez