The Design Research Society (DRS), established in 1966, is the learned society committed to promoting and developing design research worldwide. It is the longest established multi-disciplinary international society for the design research community and has around 1000 members. The DRS has its own leading international academic journal Design Studies.
DRS pursues an interdisciplinary commitment to studying design across all the different domains of practice. It hosts a popular biennial conference, which this year was hosted by the City of Bilbao in Spain. DRS2022 attracted 800 participants, in a hybrid in-person and online format.
The DRS is governed by an Executive Board and an International Advisory Council. Together, these bodies represent global design schools across thirteen different countries, including the UK, The Netherlands, USA, Chile, Sweden, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Peru, South Korea and Switzerland. Rebecca is the second female to hold the role (the first was Prof Tracy Bhamra, 2016-2019, also from Loughborough University).
Joining Rebecca is Prof Rachel Cooper from Lancaster University, as President of DRS, and Dr Anna Vallgårda from IT University of Copenhagen as Chair of the International Advisory Council.
Rebecca Cain has a record of long service with the DRS, having been a council member since 2009, when she held the role of Honorary Secretary. She was one of the leading members in transitioning the society to the new, international governance structure that exists today, and for the last two years has held the role of the Vice-Chair of the DRS Executive Board.
In her time as Vice-Chair, Rebecca has been active in community building, through mobilising the creation of new Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and co-produced the experimental online conference format – the DRS Festival of Emergence, in 2021. Rebecca also founded SIGWELL, the DRS Special Interest Group (SIG) on Wellbeing, Happiness and Health, and co-chaired the DRS2020 Conference.
In her other roles, Rebecca is a Professor of Transdisciplinary Design in the School of Design and Creative Arts at Loughborough University, where she also holds the role of Associate Dean for Enterprise. She is Director of a Transdisciplinary Doctoral Training Centre, which is using a cohort approach to creatively rethink experiences of home and homelessness. She is also active within the UK Research Funding Councils, is a member of the Learning Committee at the Design Museum in London, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA).
Upon her election to DRS Chair, Rebecca said “It is truly an honour to serve the Design Research Community as the new Chair of DRS. The DRS has been a central part of my academic life for over thirteen years, and over that time, it has been hugely rewarding to be part of the growth and transformation of the society into the international body it is today.”
On future plans, she added. “Over the next two years, I look forward to working with our new Executive Board and International Advisory Council to build a diverse and inclusive society which serves the global design research community and furthers the field of design research. In the challenging times we live in, there has never been a more pressing need for design disciplines to come together as a collective force to make change. I am passionate about building communities across disciplines, working in partnership and supporting the next generation of design researchers.”