Sixth Annual Design Research Conference: Designing Health (Oct 2010, USA)

Conference to be held at the Interdisciplinary Design Institute of Washington State University Spokane
October 7 – 8, 2010
Deadline for Submission: 1 April 2010.

“Design” is a dynamic and multi-faceted term. Both verb and noun, it originates in the Latin designare, or, “to mark out.” Thus, design can be understood as both a mental activity that involves the study and transformation of our physical and intellectual surroundings; and as the products of such activity. “Health,” according to the World Health Organization, “…is not only the absence of infirmity and disease but also a state of physical, mental and social well-being.” Design and health have many areas of overlap. How do the designs of our environments, including such specific characteristics as light, color, material, and dimension; and more general characteristics such as proximity to nature, other human beings, and basic services, affect our health?  Can good design contribute to good health, and if so, how can we study this relationship and facilitate the most healthful outcomes?

Designing Health explores these and other questions that arise from the intersections of the design and health care fields. This annual conference is notable for its intimate size, generous paper presentation times that allow for in-depth discussions, and a variety of participatory sessions that facilitate interaction between students, paper presenters and invited speakers. Past conference participants have come from all over the world. The conference will be held at the Riverpoint campus, adjacent to both the Spokane River and historic downtown Spokane, in easy walking distance to hotels, restaurants, and recreational opportunities.

We encourage proposals that directly or indirectly advance the scholarship concerning various scales of the urban environment integrating health and design concerns in teaching, research, practice community outreach, or combinations thereof. The number of presentation sessions is limited, so please submit abstracts early. Submissions for papers and projects can address
(but need not be limited to) the following topic areas:

  • In the manner of utopias: a vision for a healthy society
  • Health, wellness, and design: challenges and accomplishments in developing countries
  • Health and the community: pedestrian-friendly communities, New Urbanism, obesity in relation to lifestyle
  • Planning the health science campus
  • Healing environments
  • Designing the new hospital: hospital as resort
  • The spa, the salon and the therapist parlor: real spaces for health or just fancy interiors for the rich?
  • The 21st century home: a new paradigm for healthy living
  • Elderly assisted living care: just another building or a special place?
  • The absence of home: homelessness and health
  • Health and the body: ergonomics
  • Signs of health: contributions of graphic design on health and wellness

Authors may submit in any of the following categories:

Papers: Presentations of research by one or more authors explore either theoretical or practical aspects of the conference theme. It is expected that the research presented in the paper category will have reached at least some preliminary conclusions and/or implications that can be shared with the audience.

Projects: Can be designs (or concepts) of built forms at any scale, so long as an accompanying narrative explains how the
project addresses the conference topic.

Panels: The moderator will write the abstract proposal and invite three to five presenters to participate.  Include names of the participants in the abstract. The topic should address the conference theme and be one that would benefit from diverse opinions and open discussion.

Posters: This is a format that fosters one-on-one dialogue between the presenter and the conference attendees, and is intended for research that is best presented in a graphic manner. Abstracts submitted in this category must include a description of or information concerning the graphic presentation being proposed (medium, format, etc). Authors will be notified of the display area upon notification of acceptance. Posters will be presented in an open forum at designated time(s) during the conference.

Graduate Forum: The Graduate Forum is intended for those students whose projects are not completed or fully developed. The forum is viewed as an opportunity for mentoring between the presenter and the audience.. These forums will include two students each presenting for 15 minutes. The remaining half hour is for audience interaction.

Submission requirements for presentation categories

Abstract must not exceed 500 words and should be double-spaced, Arial font (10 pt). Page should have 1” margins on all sides.  Place the title of the abstract in the header. Immediately below it record the type of presentation and word count. If a student, please indicate after word count. (e.g., Poster; 490 word count; Student) Information revealing the identity of the author should not appear in the abstract.  Submissions may include up to two pages of images or support information included as an appendix.  Submissions MUST be submitted as a pdf.

Submissions are to be sent to Darrin Griechen at Please copy (cc) John Turpin at Within the body of the email, include contributor(s) name, affiliation, and contact information. All submissions will be double-blind peer review. Deadline for submissions: midnight PST (Pacific Standard Time) on April 1, 2010 with decisions issued by May 15.

Presenters’ work at the conference may be further peer reviewed for inclusion in the Interdisciplinary Design and Research e-Publication (IDRP), sponsored by the WSU Interdisciplinary Design Institute:

About Fil Salustri
I'm a design methodologist and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Adjectives that describe me include: secular humanist, meritocrat, and long-winded. Some people call me a positivist too, as if that were a bad thing. Go figure. My real home page is

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