Design Researchers in Residence

A new programme coordinated by the Design Museum in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Apply now

Applications open for the 2021-2022 programme


Theme: Restore

Deadline: Monday 27 September 2021 9.00am (BST).



In recent years, research and critical thinking have come to define contemporary design practice. Designers today are not only problem solvers or product creators but also catalysts for knowledge and the circulation of ideas.

New Thinking New Voices

New Thinking New Voices is the Design Museum’s discursive and research-based programme that champions thinking as integral to design. This year, the programme launches a new collaboration between the Design Museum and the Arts Humanities and Research Council (AHRC) - 'Design Researchers in Residence'. Building on the principles, framework and legacy of Designers in Residence - the Design Museum's distinguished education programme for emerging designers - this residency supports emerging design thinkers at the start of their careers to spend a year developing a new research project in response to a theme.

Supported by mentors within the learning and curatorial team at the Design Museum, as well as the Future Observatory leadership and wider AHRC networks, the design researchers will take part in an intensive 12-month programme of crits, panel discussions and symposia where their research will be discussed and disseminated via the Design Museum’s audiences and wider professional network. The researchers will be given access to a dedicated studio at the museum to reflect, research and consider new ways of developing their practice. The programme will culminate in a display at the Design Museum and an accompanying catalogue.

The residency hosts international practitioners and researchers in the fields of architecture, design, and digital culture. Proposals are invited through an international open call and selected by a jury of renowned curators, academics, and leaders in the field of design research. Researchers are supported with mentorship, a studio, and a stipend, and their research, will manifest through public events, an exhibition and a publication curated and edited by the Design Museum.

Researchers will receive a bursary of £8,000 and an additional £6,000 towards direct costs for their final work and showcase.

Programme Framework

- Monthly crits with the programme curator and on occasion external guests will be invited to attend, including members of the Design Exchange Partnerships.

  • Engage with the programme of the Future Observatory’s accompanying programme - Design Exchange Partnerships – 20 research projects around the UK on the theme of Net Zero+.

  • Opportunity to propose 1 or 2 events (talks, screenings, performances etc.) for the Design Museum’s public programme – New Thinking New Voices.

  • Opportunity so present research at a Future Observatory symposium organised by the Design Museum to coincide with forthcoming exhibition Waste Age.

  • Contribution to a programme catalogue edited by the Design Museum and AHRC.

  • Opportunity to present final outcomes in a group exhibition at the Design Museum.

  • The opportunity to take an ambassadorial role for Future Observatory

Criteria for applications

Emerging career researchers or designers i.e., in education or within five years of setting up a business or leaving education;
Practice-based researchers or work that is able to culminate into an engaging physical display at the museum.

A PhD in an Arts and Humanities design discipline.

Notes on applications
Current PhD students can apply but will have to demonstrate that they will suspend their studies for the duration of the Residency and that their supervisors approve of their application.

Deadline for all applications on Monday 27 September 2021 9.00am (BST).
Please note entries received after this deadline will not be accepted.

If you have any questions please contact residence2021@designmuseum.org

Theme for Open Call

Theme: Restore

Climate change is the defining crisis of our time. As human impact continues to place pressure on our natural ecosystems and biodiversity, the future of our planet is uncertain. Deforestation, fossil fuels and intensive agriculture caused by unsustainable consumption has created food shortages, environmental degradation, and displacement across the global. And now, with the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, the structural frailties and inequalities that exist in our governance models and supply chains have been exposed. We must radically rethink the tools and systems needed to reduce consumption and protect our planet for all lifeforms now and in years to come.

As the Design Museum’s Waste Age exhibition demonstrates, design can play a crucial role in helping us navigate this landscape. Innovations in material culture, manufacturing and consumer experience are proposing new ways of making and systems for consuming that are more respectful to the environment. Moreover, designers today are demonstrating the value of recycling waste into new resources, to begin the transition to a circular economy.

The focus of this year’s Future Observatory, within which this residency sits, is net zero+: not only the reduction and/or offsetting of carbon emissions, but also circularising local and national economies, reducing waste, and embedding environmental sustainability at strategic, socio-technical and product/service innovation levels. Through Future Observatory a new collaborative programme between the Design Museum, the Arts and the Humanities Research Council, the museum is exploring how design can enable the UK to meet its environmental targets, whether on air and water pollution, carbon footprints and waste-management or biodiversity. It advocates for solutions that help to deliver Net Zero by 2050, and that go beyond to protect our communities and restore our natural world now. How can we have an inclusive transition to a greener economy?

This open call invites research proposals for the residency responding to the theme of Restore. We welcome proposals for alternative thinking around how to recover natural habitats, ecosystems and protect species. Building on the themes raised in Future Observatory and Waste Age, applications should explore how design can amplify and accelerate climate action to enable a societal shift towards a more inclusive, equitable and sustainable future.