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Imagination Networks

Imagination Networks will explore and define routes for cutting-edge design-led research through multi-sectoral, national, and international collaborations that will bring representatives from academia, the public services, and business together. The three workshops are being funded by Research England through the Beyond Imagination Project and are being led by researchers from the project team. Three focus areas will be highlighted during the workshops that will take place

  • adaptive materials and the role of design[ers]
  • the role of sound design in online platforms
  • designing for place-based policy

Find out more about how we are paving the way for the future of design in these three fields:

Adaptive Materials and the Role of Design[ers]

Led by Dr. Adam Blaney with his colleagues Dilan Ozkan and Dr. Mariana Fonseca Braga, this workshop will ask; What if materials could change and adapt to different conditions in response to the material crisis in the 21st century? For instance, what if athletes’ clothes could change according to their needs in different circumstances (temperature, altitude etc.)? What if prosthetics could change to better adapt, providing bespoke comfort and performance? If we think on a larger scale, what if cities could grow and self-assemble like organisms? What if we could harness the use of biomaterials? What if building materials can self-heal? How do we deal with the unpredictable behaviour of living materials?

These are some of the futures encompassed by adaptive materials and the role of design[ers]. We are engaging academics working on developing new design methods for fields such as emerging technologies, biotechnologies, digital fabrication, HCI and data physicalisation. We are also involving people from the sports industry and health professionals to look through promising ways of evolving this field.

Designing for Place Based Policy

Dr. Louise Mullagh is leading this workshop with her colleagues Professor Rachel Cooper, Dr. Naomi Jacobs and Nuri Kwon. Policy makers face challenges in tackling complex problems such as climate change, post COVID-19 recovery and ensuring equitable access to services. These issues are experienced in different ways in different places, and ‘one size fits all’ policy approaches are not always the best. The idea of Place Based policy is emerging as a way in which to design context specific solutions, that take into account the location and those who live and work there. However, what is really meant by Place Based policy and how it might be designed is unclear. We will be inviting designers, researchers and local government representatives to work with us and explore what Place Based policy might look like and how we might use design and innovative methods in gathering the relevant data and evidence, designing policies and understanding their value and impact.

The Role of Sound Design in Online Platforms

Dr. Joe Lindley will be leading this workshop. The on-going impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is the fast and widespread adoption of video conferencing and other online communication platforms. Such platforms are extremely effective, but they fall short of managing to recreate the quality of communication that we achieve in-person as well as introducing new issues such as so-called ‘Zoom Fatigue’. In this workshop we will explore the untapped potential of sound to enhance remote communications technology. Working with award-winning audio production company Darkfield and Edinburgh University’s Informatics Department, we will create an experiential Design Fiction that explores ‘meeting rooms of the future’. We will explore a range of questions including, is sound an underutilised resource in remote communication; how can sound enable better hybrid meeting spaces; can better utilisation of sound reduce accessibility challenges; and what will the metaverse sound like?

For more information please contact s.a.summers@lancaster.ac.uk

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