NORDES Design Research Exhibition

The Nordes 2013 design research exhibition has now been packed down. And the Nordes conference has ended. It has been some 4 intense days at the Campus in Copenhagen (and 1-day in Malmö). Packed down or not, I want to mention some/many words about the exhibition part which I was chairing. The fact that we have had over 50 designers and design researchers applying, and after double blind review, 27 exhibitors – shows that there is an interest and perhaps a need to further explore what role exhibitions and all its materialities can play in research contexts.

The NORDES 2013 Design Research Exhibition explored the many aspects of design research as experimental practice. The design research exhibition can in itself be argued to be a piece of research, asking questions such as: What characterize a design research exhibition compared to a traditional design and art exhibition? How do you show the very materialities of the design experiments as a means for communicating knowledge of research and of practice? How do you present, review and utilize such an exhibition?

With those questions in mind the intension and challenge for the Nordes 2013 Design Research Exhibition has been to take us beyond textual ways of staging research enquires in design conferences. Artifacts, installations, performances, and other materialities that relates to the theme of conference – Experiments in Design Research – is displayed as tools to express and communicate different design research enquires.

As a way to allow for debates to flourish we created a small kit for the exhibition that included a set of inquiry notes that allowed visitor to attach questions, comments and reflections to the exhibition items.


And as a way to better link the material and the textual (everyone participating in the exhibition had a two-page , exploratory or full paper that puts the experiments into perspective) I created a ‘design research landscape map’. The map corresponded with the physical space of the exhibition and the different fields of research are clustered as islands. Furthermore, sentences and keywords from corresponding papers/exhibition items are then placed across the landscape. My intension was to allow visitors to explore both the physical space/things and the text.


The reviewing, is also another very different thing about a design research exhibition. The fact that we do not have one curator, instead the decisions of who exhibits have been spread out of over many different people, or reviewers. The curation was explored as de-centralised.

I hope that the future Nordes exhibition can feature an even closer knit between the paper presentations and material non-textual experiments. And I hope I get more opportunities to experiment further with other ways of making exhibitions.


And finally, I want to say thanks to everyone who exhibited (like Annelise de Smeet and her brilliant live performance as seen in above photo). My co-chairs, and Liv, Fanni, Priska and Julie. This exhibition could not have been done without all of your hard work.

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