A critical component of this research was to demonstrate the value of defining design for day-to-day problems facing designers. To this end, a workshop was created and tested to help various groups think about and define design for their specific purpose. Full workshop details are below.

If you would like to a workshop  to be conducted with your group or organization please contact Robert Andruchow at [email protected]

Who is the workshop for?

  • Educators in a post-secondary design institution developing curriculum or long-term program plans
  • Companies needing to define roles and responsibilities
  • Government granting agencies which need to define design for application evaluation purposes
  • Design students and design practitioners who wish to gain a better understanding of design for their own personal development in school and practice


Workshops can, and probably should be, tailored to your group or organization’s specific purpose. That being said, each workshop would have the same general structure:

  • a 30 minute presentation on why definition is important and recent debates regarding the definition of design, followed by a Q&A;
  • a 45 minute presentation on definition types, issues and approaches, followed by a Q&A;
  • a 15 minute presentation on the workshop exercise;
  • a 60-120 minute exercise and discussion which gives participants a chance to go through the process of defining design for themselves and compare definitions with other participants.

Previous workshops

Three workshops were conducted as part of this research. The feedback was very positive with all participants recommending their colleques to attend the workshop. Here is a breakdown of the previous workshops:

  • Workshop 1 Was composed of first-year students enrolled in the Master of Design program at the University of Alberta. With over 35,000 students the University of Alberta is the largest university in the province of Alberta and a major research university in Canada. Two of the students were specializing in Visual Communication Design, while the other two were specializing in Industrial Design.  The main reason for defining design in this workshop was for the students to contextualize their own masters research.
  • Workshop 2 Visual communication design instructors at Grant MacEwan University. The main reason for defining design in this workshop was to see how a similar workshop or meeting among all program instructors could be conducted. Participants mentioned that their program was going through significant change and were intending to hold curriculum planning meetings in the future, for which, the process of defining design could be a starting point. Only 18 months prior to this workshop, Grant MacEwan was given university status by the provincial government. Due to this recent designation, the Design Studies program is still currently a diploma program with a greater emphasis on industry placement than the University of Alberta. The recent designation has resulted in a period of transition for all faculties within the university including the Design Studies program.
  • Workshop 3 Four participants, each a senior faculty member from four different disciplines at the University of Alberta. The four disciplines were chosen for their strong connection to design: business and marketing, computing science, mechanical engineering and psychology. The focus for this workshop was less pragmatic than the previous two, since the four attending had no immediate reason to define design. Instead, the focus was exploratory: a chance for the researcher and participants to learn how similarly (or not) disciplines used the term design. This workshop demonstrated the significant gap between how designers in the applied arts view design vs how other researchers outside design view design.