WDO Research and Education Forum

The Research and Education Forum is a one-day event taking place on 22 February 2022 in conjunction with the 32nd World Design Assembly (22-24 February 2022) hosted by Economic Promotion Bureau of Shunde People’s Government of Foshan.

The forum aims to bring together designers, academics, students and design professionals to further enhance the future of design research and education through a series of thematic presentations and discussions.

This opportunity to present and exchange advances and trends in design education is of unparalleled value and allows for students and designers to participate and exchange with their peers from around the globe.

Under the banner of ‘Design for the unimagined’ we will explore the role design plays in the face of the encroaching threats of climate change, economic instability and concerns around public health.


Design for the unimagined

Design has always been about looking forward, but how do you design for an increasingly uncertain future? Bound by the encroaching threats of climate change, economic instability and concerns around public health, it is time for us to work together to reimagine what lies ahead. Collectively, we must heed the lessons learned from the past and remain hopeful about what is yet to come.

Under the banner of ‘Design for the unimagined’ the Research and Education Forum will be further divided into three themes. 

Our world is facing many complex challenges – from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to climate change, overpopulation and global migrations. These extreme circumstances have not only forced us to rethink how we live our lives, shifting daily habits and patterns, but have also brought us together in new ways that showcase how humans can adapt in times of crisis. With a push to offer improved products, systems and environments, designing meaningful solutions to our current reality will require new forms of creativity and collaboration.


  • Changes in personal work patterns, commuting, home work environments
  • New visions of products, interiors, environments, urban planning, and cities
  • Impacts on mental and physical health, daily schedules, and how to ‘design’ better lifestyles
  • Understanding how designers approach complex problems and the inherent challenges and limits
  • Contrasts between using people as beta testers and systems for human survival that have no tolerance for failure

Big Data. Artificial Intelligence. The Internet of Things. These technologies are influencing our world, but questions loom about what value they can really bring to our everyday lives. The key, it would seem, to unlocking this potential is evaluating the balance between human-centred and performance-based technologies. As we look to address some of our most pressing and social and environmental challenges, designing with people in mind allows us to better understand where we came from and how we can move forwards together.


  • Evaluating the progress of technology within a human-centred framework
  • Comprehending what sustainability really means, now and for generations to come, given the enormous human and environmental impacts of previous ideas of progress
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) and the interconnectedness of future environments for living, working and designing
  • Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality in the pursuit of the UN SDGs
  • Technology development funding models across industry types

Changes in society, student expectations, and technology continue to shift the ways in which we learn. A distinctive rise in online learning has caused both design educators and students alike to explore new tools to keep up with the demands of 21st century learning. As new forces reshape the academic landscape and conversations around educational accessibility pervade public debate, how can existing methodologies of design research and curricula evolve to enhance the student experience and equip them with the skills needed for future professional practice?


  • Open education and the challenge of making higher education accessible to students in need
  • Using virtual and augmented reality in design studios to enhance student experience
  • Mobile phones as learning tools and access points to knowledge, particularly in developing countries
  • Changing needs and aspirations of students and young designers around the world, and methods for increasing engagement and participation at all stages of education
  • Evolving methods of design research, curricular planning and integration in university and community vision planning
  • Best practices to date and regional case studies that have potential for global application and impact
  • Ways to maximize opportunities between private sector companies, educational institutions, and promotional and professional organizations
  • Challenges to the quality of education in the rapid expansion of students and programs, and how humanizing design education is impacted, if the human dimension is reduced to market success rather than quality of individual
  • Identifying the essential core of design learning, learning by doing, the value of apprenticeships, and the proper balance between professional practitioners versus academics as educators
  • The leadership role WDO can play in building partnerships with the wider design community and other international institutions also addressing complex economic, social and environmental challenges from a design research and education perspective

2022 Key Dates

14 January

Deadline for extended abstracts

2 February

Notice of acceptance for extended abstracts

4 February

Deadline for poster and video submissions

14 February

Notice of acceptance for posters and video

14 February

Submission of accepted
paper presentations

22 February

Research and Education