AHO Logo

Contact & Location

The Centre for Design Research is based in the Institute of Design at AHO.

Prof. Andrew Morrison (andrew.morrison at aho.no)

All research related staff
see People in this site

Contact on all PhD queries
Prof. Andrew Morrison

Contact on all project admnistration matters
Brita Nøstvik 

Head of Institute of Design
Jonathan Romm (2008-2011)
Rachel Troye (2012-)

Physical Address
AHO, Maridalsveien 29, 0175, Oslo

Postal address
Center for Design Research, AHO, Pb 6768 St. Olavs plass 0130 Oslo

from central Station: nos 34 and 54 (stop at Telthusbakken)

about 15 minutes from Oslo Central Station.


The Centre for Design Research at AHO encompasses practice based and inquiry centred research that draws on design processes and products and supports and crosses demarcations between products and services, industrial and interaction design. We also now support and publish research in a range of other areas of design inquiry and practice. The centre includes the experimental, procedural and also speculative nature of researching what does not yet exist. As part of the Institute of Design at AHO, DR has the goal of making a consistent and quality-led contribution to international research in diverse fields of design, and through practice based inquiry and critical, informed reflection.


DR will make consistent and quality-led contributions to international research in diverse fields of design, through practice based inquiry and critical, informed reflection.


DR’s mission is to become and remain a leading international research environment for design informed research that blends theory and practice, development and analysis. This entails growing an ecology of inter and transdisciplinary research rigour with creative and critical design activity in partnerships with a diversity of designers, artists, businesses, research collaborators and students. Innovative mediation of research online and in mixed formats and venues is a key aspect of our professional design and research activity. It is also part of forming and conveying our identity and profile. Linking with other relevant centres and programmes in design research is a main part of our mission. So too is seeking out, maintaining and extending effective and forward looking partnerships with ‘industry’. Our research is also closely connected to teaching at master’s and doctoral levels.


DR now supports and publishes research in a range of design areas – such as service, strategic and discursive design –  in addition to established ones of industrial and interaction design. Connected to emerging domains of international design research, the centre also reflects the experimental, procedural and speculative nature of researching what does not yet exist in design terms and what is in emergence. This is in keeping with theoretical and methodological developments in design and other domains of applied and innovation-led research. This means working closely with design and research experts in facing, tackling and critiquing approaches to innovation, contexts of application, and practices of use.

AHO has provided invaluable institutional support for the growth of research in design over the past 5 years. AHO has supported DR staff in furthering their research qualifications as well as providing funding for PhD students in design. In addition, this growth has been achieved through the successful award of large research grants from the Norwegian Research Council (NFR).

These grants have followed three waves. The first was areas of social media and interface design, service design, and touch based interaction. The second includes the hiring of two new fullprofessors who brought related projects to DR’s research portfolio, and an entirely new one. The third wave built on these investments and research outcomes so that in 2010 a variety of new research projects totalling over NOK 40M were secured 2010 alone. These cover martime ship bridge design, methods for service innovation, multimodal interfaces and disabilty, and social media and performativity in urban environments. In connection with, and in support of these NFR projects, a number of smaller, pilot, developmental, experimental  and specific research projects have been funded. Participation in EU level netowrk projects has also been awarded, e-g. services and tourism, cultural history. Alongside these are public sector funding, such as form The Design Counci, and a cross programme research networking grant form the Research Council of Norway. In addition, we run several projects that are funded by our own AHO reseacher positions and ongoing educational and research motivations and directions.

As is common in research centres,ur research project profile extends into public professional activities. In 2009, DR hosted two international design conferences, in 2010 it guest edited (Andrew Morrison & Birger Sevaldson) and contributed to a special issue of an innovative online journal. In summer 2011 an international journal special issue on interaction and communication design guest edited by Andrew Morrison, Director of DR was published. DR research staff also participate actively in research oriented regional conferences, organizations and graduate educational programmes. DR researchers are on the boards of several research journals and organisations and regularly review for leading journals and conferences.

DR now has a diversity of funded basic research projects, ones that partner with businesses and others that are expressly experimental in nature. Doctoral level research is prominent in most of these projects. Design innovation and peer reviewed published research is central too. Research interests and domains have been established by our senior colleaguues and in partnerships with other research and design partners. Our PhD students have also brought fresh insights and directions to a number of areas of design and publish in leading design research journals and conferences.

Research These & Approaches

We use the categories Themes and Approaches to categorise and to connect our research between and across projects and domains. We also encourage the synthesis of knowledge, skills and outreach between research and design.

DR has a number of core research themes that are project related but also cross individual projects and lift concepts, practices and critical analysis in researching by design. These themes will also be linked to similar ones in other design research settings, in the Nordic countries and internationally. The main Themes we addres are:  Cultures, Ecologies, Futures, Interactions, Services, Systems and Things. The main Approaches we adopt are: Consultative, Critical, Discursive, Experimental, Generative and Retrospective.

Research Modes & Method

DR engages in basic, applied and developmental research modes, and, importantly, also their intersections. DR works in various modes of research and through a variety of means of its communication, dissemination and publication. Qualitative and performative modes of inquiry are key to our engagement in existing and emerging technologies, changing practices and needs.

Relations between design methods and research methodologies are also given special attention. Mixed research methods are also used and, along with design based ones, those from the social sciences and humanities, engineering and computing are taken up and combined where needed. Project-based research plays a large role in our research profile and practices. This includes commercial and public partners, as well as research with other institutions of higher education and research excellence. Wider Nordic and international collaboration is also part of the means through which we build, conduct, review and extend our research.

Projects & Inquiry

Research projects may take on different configurations depending on their funding structure, pattern of practice and analysis. Development projects may place greater weight on design activity itself; more academic projects may pay closer attention to critical analysis. However, mixed modes of design with reflection may also cross over into new forms of knowledge building. Their status in part is that they are emergent, innovative and co-extensive. Project funding therefore comes from various sources: NFR. AHO, IDE, EU, PhD grants, commercial support, commissions, consultancies, as well as their relations to funded teaching at AHO. DR makes special effort to also connect between and across projects, not only thematically but in shaping and questioning concepts and developing and refining design and related research methods.

Teaching & Mediation

In addition to established courses and pedagogies, teaching at IDE draws on design and research from research projects, partners and networks. In this way research adds to an existing professional profile. This is especially so at master’s level. RxD makes a considerable contribution to the PhD school at AHO, in terms of research by design, design theory and research and communication methods. DR has particular strengths in the mediation of research in digital domains and this extends to presentations accessible to other design communities as well as a wider public. At both master’s and doctoral levels, we apply and investigate research based teaching and teaching based research.

DR takes the communication and mediation of research as a serious part of making its knowledge accessible to other researchers, educators, students and the public. This extends from the Web to exhibitions, catalogues, fliers etc. DR has a clear mandate to ‘market’ its outcomes to a diversity of audiences and to connect research by design back to the ongoing work of designers, companies and a wider public. Innovation in digitally mediated research publication is an area that DR has international expertise and is to be further extended. We place weight on good design in communicating research and this extends also to more popular representations of complex design inquiry that connects research to social mediation and public access.


DR has considerable design and research networks at different levels: local, regional and international. DR’s goal and motivation is to build strong research networks at a regional Nordic level and has contributed to this via various areans, e.g. the Nordes conference, CUMULUS. Networking with Norwegian businesses is also a major concern in building strong connections for research, for student placements and importantly for future employment and research projects. DR also supports a research network called DR-N that connects local design research activities, events and outcomes with partners with whom we have estabished links and ones with whom we hope to collaborate further.  This network has grown out of the ealier IxD network (with an original focus on interaction design) and is extended to similar research projects and degree programmes. DR-N is also a means to better connect with businesses, meet emerging trends, apply for strategic funds and develop shared curricula.


These range from individual designers and artists, companies, organizations, researchers and research institutions and centres. For DR building partnerships with colleagues and between institutes at AHO is also important and a goal for our long term research profile.Internationalisationnis also an expressed goal, one already relaised in research project wider reference groups and networks.


DR is both fed by and depends on events that locate it within research and as part of wider communicative settings. We run a bi-weekly research seminar series, contribute to research events connected to the PhD school, arrange and host specific topic research seminars with guests, co-ordinate and contribute to regional and international conferences. Alongside these more formal research events, we encourage more open-ended workshops, meetings and exhibitions that allow clearer dialogue to be achieved between researchers, partners, developers, funders and commercial interests. Selected events also have an online component and presence.


We are in the process of filling our database with publication, in the meantime you can see a tentative list of publications here.
Research publication in peer reviewed journals and books are central to our continuing research excellence. DR publishes in international conference proceedings and journals, but also in locally accredited ones. Drawing on a variety of professional and personal competencies is critical for our innovations in communicating research, in print and electronically.

Doctoral Research

The centre now has an interesting and chellenging spread of fully fnanced doctoral researchprojects. These are typically connected to larger formal research projects. Individual projects, funeded by AHO often, are also present in our portfolio. We encourage of PhD students to be active contributing members to our overall research frames and to be an active part in knowledge buiding, form, in and about design. We encourage them to draw on their expertise in design and to apply it critically in their inquiry, one that is often practice-led and informed. Close and critical supervision including wider critique and support via our seminar series is central to the development of strong doctoral research at the Centre.

We also research doctoral education in design as part of our research portfolio. This is an important part of design research that needs fuller attention as the field of design researchi s still relatively young and doctoral education has only substantially begin in the past 15 years internationally. We are fortunate to be central in the docotral school at AHO and to work closely with colleagues on shaping doctoral education in our own institution. Internationally we are also building links in this area through research but also through examining and networking on docotal design education.