The call for submissions has now closed. We’ve kept the call online on this page for archival purposes.

RTD 2019 – Call for submissions

New Disciplines of Making – Shared Knowledge in Doing

We are excited to invite submissions for the third biennial Research Through Design (RTD) conference to be held in Edinburgh, UK, between the 22nd and 24th of March 2017. RTD supports the dissemination of practice-based research through a novel and experimental conference format, comprising a curated exhibition of design research, accompanied by round-table discussions in ‘Rooms of Interest’. The exhibition will be used as a platform for presenting and demonstrating research processes and outputs, and for generating debate on the role of the design practitioner and their work in a research context. Building on the success of the second RTD conference held in Microsoft Research’s lab in Cambridge in 2015, the third conference, RTD 2017, is to be hosted at the National Museum of Scotland (NMS) in Edinburgh. This promises to be an exciting venue for exploring new and emerging making disciplines, in a sustainably minded and socially aware community of practice. RTD 2017 offers a unique opportunity for conference exhibits to be juxtaposed with traditional curated NMS artefacts and collections, challenging contemporary and future notions of value and expertise.

We invite submissions from researcher-practitioners documenting research through design projects, including descriptions of methods, processes and insights emerging from design inquiry. It is anticipated that this will offer a departure point for rich discussion. Criteria for selection are based on the author’s presentation of artefacts (constituting research process or outcomes) and should be central to their submission. Artefacts will be included in the curated exhibition, and papers should accompany the exhibited artefact in a presentation of ‘research through design’ at the conference. Conference proceedings will be publicly available via Figshare.

Contributions to RTD 2017 may fall under (but are not limited to) the following themes:

Material: Fluidity of Knowledge

What are the new disciplines in making? Ceramics, glass, metalwork, woodwork, textiles, are all long established materials based disciplines in making. New roles for objects and materials, including digital craft and data, are emerging, questioning where knowledge lies in and across the creation process and created outputs. What does this mean for the ‘thingness’ of creations? What does this mean for ownership? What does this mean for citations and referencing of design? How might this new fluidity challenge the ways we work and make? How can we design from, with, and by digital data?

Process: Outcomes of the Unintended

Success and failure are not often assigned equal importance, particularly in risk adverse contexts. However the role of serendipity and the ‘happy accident’ abound in both scientific discovery and creative practices. What is the value of failure? How does this translate into tactics of making? How can we celebrate the beauty of flaws and failure and what do we lose by not failing? What part has risk played in the creative outcome? Does practice make ‘perfect’?

Finishing: States of Completion

New forms of making challenge the concept of ‘uniqueness’ – what makes the ‘perfect’ and where does variation now lie? How are bespoke artefacts situated in our digital, on-demand, open-access world? When and where does the making process finish? How does this sit with the drive towards sustainable design and the circular economy? For this strand we also encourage design outcomes that are incomplete, or where the process has been re-wound.

Meaning: Belonging and Attachment

Nothing is designed in isolation. External factors infiltrate all of our creative processes and responses to situational contexts, consciously or otherwise. Geographical place, history or community all define a locus that influences practice. What are the roles and examples of histories of new making and artefacts? How can histories, presents, and futures be attached to designed items? What does it mean to belong, and how can site specific making afford a sense of attachment to place?

We strongly encourage participation from a wide range of Design disciplines including, but not limited to: Product, Industrial, Interaction, Service, Textile, Ceramics, Jewellery, Fashion, Architecture, Interior, Experience, Film, and those working at the intersection of disciplines such as Human-Computer Interaction or in more emergent fields and practices such as Synthetic Biology.

How to submit to RTD 2017

The submission process is made through the OpenConf system and is split into two stages:

Stage 1:

Authors are invited to submit (i) a 300 word (excluding references) anonymised abstract, (ii) a short up to 150 word description of what they intend to exhibit and bring to the Rooms of Interest sessions and (iii) up to 10 illustrations / images / visual material provided as a single PDF (max file size 30MB) by midnight (British Summer Time, UTC +1) end of 23rd June 2016. The Abstract should summarise the motivations, intentions and/or outcomes of a ‘research through design’ project, and describe an artefact or documentation representative of this project, intended for inclusion in a curated exhibition at the conference.

We invite the submission of diverse material forms of artefact, including film, online media, installation, or live performance. However the artefact ­or a component feature of it­ must be portable to be flexibly moved between the exhibition space and Rooms of Interest during the conference programme. Abstracts should summarise key aspects of a research through design project, and will be double-blind peer reviewed by the conference chairs and programme committee.

Stage 2:

Authors of successful abstract submissions will be invited to submit a visual and written commentary on their work, using a provided template, by 3rd October 2016. Papers should comprehensively document a research through design project, describing aims, process, (intended) outcomes and critical reflections. Submissions will be double-blind peer reviewed by the programme committee. Authors are encouraged to illustrate this paper, leveraging visual communication in the presentation of their work. Previous papers and proceedings for RTD 2015 are available here.

There are no constraints on the size and dimensions of proposed artefacts at Stage 1 of submission. However, a central feature of RTD is that exhibited artefacts are brought into the Rooms of Interest to support discussion. Therefore, when preparing submissions, authors are encouraged to consider transportation logistics and costs, alongside artefact portability and ease of handling at the conference. Venue staff will receive the artefacts from 27th February 2017. If your artefact contains latex or any other known allergen, let us know when submitting and we will negotiate how best to display it if accepted. Authors will be responsible for all shipping costs and insurance of artefacts and for their removal at the end of the conference.

Papers and images of the artefacts will be published as digital conference proceedings with unique DOIs via Figshare, available at the conference and on the conference website after the event. Selected works of exceptional quality will be invited to be part of an archival publication to be produced after the event.

If you have any questions about the submissions process, please contact the Submissions Chairs at