What is ssds


Purpose of Founding of the Society for Science of Design Studies, Japan

Opportunity for the Founding of the Society for Science of Design Studies, Japan
In April 1997 the School of Science of Design* at Musashino Art University commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of its establishment in April 1967. In consideration of the need for basic research and basic studies related to design, following a proposal for a new idea of design called the "basic design studies" which we also call the "science of design," the school was founded with the aim of cultivating new types of human resources (planners, design researchers, etc.) with the potential to challenge the various issues of design from a general viewpoint and taking into account relations with other areas, rather than the conventional training of area-specific designers. In the years since then, the results of the activities of graduates embodying the educational and research activities and educational idea of the School of Science of Design have opened up new possibilities and horizons for design research and practical activities that go beyond the conventional territory of design and have links with other problem areas and study areas.
           Incidentally, at the same time as the founding of the School of Science of Design, quite unexpectedly in the area of natural sciences, a Faculty of Science of Engineering was established at Osaka University in accordance with new thinking about the area of science and engineering, which conventionally had been seen in terms of a division between pure theory and applied technology. Although of course the targeted areas differed, this faculty shared with the basic design studies a common awareness of the problems and perception of the times.
           On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the School of Science of Design, looking back on history, we conducted a reexamination of the new role and issues of design and design education. In order to clarify our view toward the twenty-first century, as a project that brought together teaching staff, graduates, and students, we carried out a diverse examination for more than a year, including monthly study meetings and a public commemorative colloquium called "Suggestions by Science of Design," with invited speakers from abroad, to consider the achievements and significance of the 30 years of basic design studies as a movement.
           Through these activities, we became aware that, in order to further identify the new problems of design toward the next generation and to solve them, it is important, especially today, to establish a creative design knowledge from a general perspective and based on this "idea of basics". At the same time, moreover, we became strongly aware of the need to establish a forum for free research and discussion--a common creative space, if you like--so as to constantly challenge and form an affluent design knowledge that has the strength to solve the many pressing problems of the present world. In other words, we became aware that rather than being limited to just an educational place, the concept of basic design studies should have a broad social forum to include the voices of not only related persons but also those of participants in public colloquiums, designers in Japan and overseas who share the same problems, researchers in related areas, and others. Hence the growing call for the establishment of the Society for Science of Design Studies, Japan.
           The following is a draft of the purpose of founding of the Society for Science of Design Studies, Japan, including the background to the suggestions by basic design studies in 1967, the historical context of the idea of basic design studies, the problems of basic design studies, and the objectives of the Society for Science of Design Studies, Japan.

* The English-language notion of a Ňscience of designÓ is translated into Japanese term as "Kiso-Design-Gaku". The Japanese term is composed of "Kiso", which means reason, and "Gaku", which means doctorine or science. In order to exclude a confusion with the propedeutic basic doctrine, i.e. basic design, as the initial stage in the education of the designer, we can say that the science of design focuses on basic research into design similar to basic research as we know it from the fields of medicine and the science s. The appropriate English description is therefore the "science of design".

Background of the Proposal for Basic Design Studies: Perception of the World and the Horizons of Design
Through this examination, it was confirmed that the design idea of basic design studies should indeed be the main focus of knowledge especially today, on the threshold of the twenty-first century. The first important point is that the roots of this idea included the new perception of radical design called post-design design, which proclaimed the "end of design." The second half of the 1960s was already the age of the end of design. In the process of high economic growth, design became entirely the target of consumption, and such problems as the excess of commodities in industrial countries, the North-South gap, and environmental pollution were coming rapidly to the surface. The proposal for basic design studies assumed this perception of the world.
           It was shortly after this, in 1972, that the Rome Club proclaimed the limits on growth as a crisis of humankind. That is to say, the desire of the modern world for affluence through progress in science and technology did not necessarily lead to the happiness of humankind as a whole. Indeed, it was clear that humankind was facing an extremely crucial crisis that threatened its very survival, and the mode of human society in the future was brought into fundamental question.
           And now the pressing problems that have been considered over the years, such as the exhaustion of natural resources and energy, the increase of population, the food crisis, environmental pollution, excessive consumption, the increase of waste, the widening of regional gaps in the world, the sense of alienation among young people, the growth of social instability, and the collapse of traditional values, have become further exacerbated on the threshold of a new century with the addition of new serious problems, such as dioxin and environmental hormones.
           Design indeed cannot possibly exist unless it searches for the knowledge to understand and solve these problems. The twenty-first century clearly is going to be an age of post-design design. The proposal again at this juncture for basic design studies, and the promotion of the next step in the movement, is a call for intellectual research into this new design and for the reform and propagation of perceptions regarding design.

Historical Context of the Idea of Basic Design Studies
In the formative period of modern design, which started as a modern art movement, the issue of the "unification of art and technology" was brought up. But in the period after World War II, when technology achieved rapid development, as characterized by the Hochschule fŸr Gestaltung Ulm's proposals in the middle of the twentieth century, the issue came to be understood in terms of the "unification of art and science" or the "integration of art and engineering." It was in this context that in 1968, aiming for a change in design education in Japan, the Kyushu Institute of Design was established and the concept of "art engineering" was proposed.
           Meanwhile, regarding Ulm's posing of the problem, rather than the unification of art and science or engineering, it seems more precise to say that the objective was the "integration of design and science." To put it another way, the emphasis was placed especially on the close linkage between design and the natural sciences or positivist knowledge.
           However, in the period toward the end of design in the latter half of the 1960s, it became necessary again, on a new dimension, to propose the original meaning of modern design, which had emerged as a modern project and a means of social reform, and its idea of society and change.
           The 1967 proposal for basic design studies can be seen as a new idea of social design reform. It had become necessary once again to explore the meaning of design. For that purpose, the integration of art and science or art and engineering itself was insufficient. And not only that, if the problem was seen as an issue of design reform, then historically it was not correct to consider it a problem of art, as in the integration of art and science. Naturally, the problem should really be seen as the integration of design and science.
           However, in opposition to the above-mentioned period perception and problems of the second half of the 1960s, since design in Japan had achieved development in close connection with industry-led sales policies and had become segmented, it was necessary for the design side itself to pose problems about the relationship between industry and design so as to promote reform. If the objective of design is to tackle the issues of the formation of a living world relating to the totality of humankind's "life," setting the idea of coexistence with nature at its base, then design not only must link with the natural sciences but also must have close relations with a wide range of mental sciences, including humanities and social science, and a comprehensive new design knowledge must be explored. The establishment of the School of Science of Design was first of all a response to this issue.

Basic Design Studies as a Transdisciplinary Concept
In order to respond to future issues, regarding design problems and the development of practical methodology, in addition to a basic design specialist course, the School of Science of Design at the time of its establishment promoted positive linkage with liberal arts, such as philosophy, cultural anthropology, social science, psychology, and logic, and also, as an entirely new characteristic, organized a curriculum that enabled positive studies in connection with other academic fields and methods-- for example, semiotics, design history, technical history, information aesthetics, cybernetics, morphology, color studies, visual methodology, representation methodology, ergonomics, mechanism theory, image engineering, topology, linguistics, phonetics, communication theory, stylistic theory, special economic theory, and special social science theory.
           Under this concept of basic design studies, as well of course as new types of design production, very interesting interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary fields and new and attractive production and research results that can be described as revelatory and experimental have been created in this period that could only have been developed through linkages between design and the scholarly fields described above. (It would have been difficult to develop them through the research areas and methods limited to the characteristics of each discipline itself.)
           To give just a couple of specific examples, links with such fields as morphology, color studies, visual methodology, and psychology have led to production and research relating to various perceptive phenomena, beginning with the mutual effects of color and shape, and are moving in the direction of pioneering research and the establishment of planned methodology on such subjects as environmental colors, which are one of the basic principles forming the foundations of Landscape Design, the need for which has been suggested in recent years. Also, with regard to such current problems as human alienation and the aging society, developments and research are being conducted toward entirely new designs as social, living, cultural, psychological, and medical processes. For example, experiments are underway to treat senile dementia by promoting close communication with senile old people using art work with shapes and colors as the medium.
           From linkages between semiotics and other areas, an extremely wide range of productions, research, and research fields has been opened up, including the cultural semiotic decoding of design phenomena and history, as well as design surveys, research into the design process and design methodology, the develoment of various (nonlinguistic) visual languages like diagrams, pictograms,and so on for visual communication, the design of icons in computers, and the establishment of databases.
           From linkages between design history and other areas, experiments have included, for example, typography research, beginning with a basic examination of Romanized modern typography and Japanese typography; the posing of questions relating to the cultural development from design theory to the modern age, with a focus on the human body (arms and legs); a study of postwar Japanese design history not from the perspective of good design but in terms of the social perceptions of consumers; and new surveys and research for the study of modern Japanese design.
           In addition, from linkages between sociology and other areas, in relation to life, culture, technology, and industry in regional societies, a large number of new design research themes and problem areas relating to production, information, livelihood formation, and environment formation have been opened up, such as policy research to pose new design issues, the methodology of problem solving, and interdisciplinary research on local administration and design. These are just some of the new research areas.

Basic Design Studies as an Intellectual Tool for Creating New Design
During these 30 years, the methods of the above-mentioned education and research have constantly been examined, and self-reorganization befitting the times has been carried out. At the same time, the "basic" in basic design studies means the creative intellectual tool for a new design open to wide horizons that explores the above-mentioned problems in a process and rhizomatous relationship. During this period, therefore, it has been employed as an active concept tool established in the specialist areas of design and, moreover, beyond this has constantly been unearthing new problems and tapping new idea veins.
           Amid the new technological revolution of today featuring multimedia and so on, which has been dubbed the advanced information society, what should our living world and society be like? How should we give concrete form to the idea of symbiosis? And how should we regenerate the totality of life? Once again, the social role of design, the innovativeness of design, and, for this purpose, the academic pursuit of design and development of the debate are being widely called for. Indeed, without this questioning, design cannot exist or have meaning. Basic design studies have been proposed as a tool for promoting this idea of change and its concretization and advance. Through the concept of basic design studies, we have been pursuing the desirable form of design and the new mode of design studies. Judging from the present state of design, from now on design is going to transform increasingly into a target of consumption and simply a tool for market competition. In the field of academic research on design, generally speaking, it can be said that there is a tendency in the traditional design area for research to be subdivided and for research simply to go it alone.
           Today there is a strong call for the sharing, development, and formation of a forum for research, study, and exchange that is widely open to people--not only in related areas, but in a diverse range of territories--who aspire to pursue a new design knowledge, from varied viewpoints and broad significance, on the basis of the links with various sciences that have been experimented in education and research by the concept of basic design studies so as to consider again what design is and furthermore to respond to the pressing problems of design today. To put it another way, what is demanded today fundamentally is a paradigm shift of design. Basic design studies are a creative intellectual tool for defining the base of the new paradigm of design. The purpose of founding the Society for Science of Design Studies, Japan is based on this context. Today, the concept of design is taking on a single appearance as the rays from various new intellectual fields, such as cultural studies, human environment studies, and information environment studies, cross and converge. The Society for Science of Design Studies, Japan is positively calling for participation and cooperation from these many intellectual fields.

Issues of Basic Design Studies: Global and Regional Perspectives
In the development of basic design studies, in terms of the historical context of modern design, so far we have pursued the formation of design studies by criticizing and examining its history in a diverse manner. It is for this reason that, in constant collaboration with global minds, we have promoted many projects so far, including the world tour of the "Moral of Things" exhibition of "the Hochshule fŸr Gestaltung Ulm", a symposium commemorating the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Bauhaus, and a related symposium on design at a turning point. Accordingly, we have constantly been promoting the development of basic design studies from a global perspective within international connections. This international academic exchange and exchange of information are becoming increasingly important.
           Furthermore, the Society for Science of Design Studies, Japan intends to development as an international exchange and cooperation forum that is open to design studies and design-related studies.
           Because of technology, environmental problems, and so on, the problems of design today are becoming increasingly global issues. And at the same time, design problems in relation to regional issues, regionality, and regional culture are becoming increasingly important, too. In this sense, it can be said also that the academic pursuit of an intellectual framework for design issues in Asia or the relationship between regional culture in Japan and design issues, which cannot necessarily be understood in the theoretic frame of Western modern design, will become increasingly important. For this purpose, from the perspective of design studies, it will be necessary to actively promote academic research cooperation and exchange in the field of design with other Asian countries, which cannot be said to have been open so far.
           In terms of international exchange, the problem will be to what extent we can understand design issues as our own country's cultural identity. Also, another problem will be how we interpret the relationship between the development process of modern design, which has been received from the West, in Japan (and its characteristics) and japanese traditional culture. Furthermore, there must be awareness of the relationship between the ancient views of nature and the universe in the East and Japan and design. We would like to positively identify the Society for Science of Design Studies, Japan as a research forum with a global perspective that at the same time pays attention to such regional cultural aspects.

Objectives of the Society for Science of Design Studies, Japan


To establish a common recognition of basic design studies and, on the basis of this concept, to form a design science that is open to possibilities.



To promote academic research relating to design and the formation of design studies from a comprehensive perspective and in connection with other related sciences.



To pursue the question of what design is.



To promote academic research relating to design and the exchange of information on design.



To promote exchange and cooperation with Japanese and foreign design-related organizations and design-related people in other countries.


We would like to establish the Society for Science of Design Studies, Japan as a comprehensive forum of intellectual exchange with the aim of establishing the social status of basic design studies as the dynamic science of design.

Shutaro Mukai
Representative, Preparatory Founding Committee for
the Society for Science of Design Studies, Japan

March 1998