Research at the Department of Design

Research at the Department of Design

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Student watching 3D printer
Photo: Geir Mogen/NTNU

Research at the Department of Design

Most research activities at Department of Design can be covered by one or more of the following research fields: Interaction Design, Design for Sustainability and Systems and Service Design. Combining insights from various disciplines makes that our research is often explorative. Our key areas are as follows:

Interaction Design

Traditionally, Interaction Design has been oriented towards web design, app design and general software development. In recent years industry has become more aware of the value of Interaction Design as an important approach to reduce the risk of human error in complex operations such as in control rooms, on ships’ bridges and in health and welfare systems.

Design for Sustainability

The department has built up considerable research activity in this area, with a focus on design for sustainable behaviour and practices, which has resulted in several successfully finished PhD projects. As of summer 2014, two RCN funded projects on behaviour related to food waste have kicked off in cooperation with SIFO and CERNOVA AS. In the RCN-funded project MINDER two postdocs address the energy efficiency of non-residential buildings, using insights and approaches from design thinking, facilities management, and social theories of practice and design.

Systems and Service Design

The department is in a process of building up experience and a good reputation in the field of Systems and Service Design (currently focusing on Social Design and Innovation in the health and welfare context). The RCN project “The Medical Home” is an important project primarily focusing on home medication systems. Since the 2016 autumn semester is the department involved in a EU Marie Curie ITN project, with two PhD students focusing on end user perspectives related to product service system development for a circular economy.

In addition to these three focal research areas, the department is involved with explorative research into design education and applied aesthetics in design:

Design education research

At IPD, a strong tradition exists of reflecting and documenting our educational activities through publications targeted at dedicated conferences and journals. Our dedication to excellent education makes that we have experience with trying out new ways of organizing courses, such as vertical studio teaching or different ways of cooperation with industry, which also provide a welcome topic for reflection, as do our study trips and our research on charting professional perspectives for our alumni. In 2010 the department won the bid for organising the 12th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education. This conference, one of three NTNU jubilee conferences in 2010, was a big success and the spoken and written feedback received was almost without exception excellent.

Applied aesthetics in design

The department’s role and responsibility is to provide knowledge about what happens when people and technology meet. This implies an exploration of applied aesthetics that requires quite different approaches from those common in traditional (engineering) research - because the discipline is based on the balanced combination of theoretical, logical knowledge with a practical and intuitive exploration of aesthetic expression - which we also find in the fields of music and art. As of 2014, the department has taken over responsibility for education in aesthetics from the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art. This provides additional motivation for explorative research on applied aesthetics at the department, using artistic, qualitative and quantitative approaches.

Please visit our staff's individual pages for a description of individual research projects.



The Department of Design has extensive cooperation with companies in Norway in the form of student projects,  research projects, workshops, training and industrial projects. Below you will find links to some of the companies the department has collaborated with.

Exchange and foreign universities

It is very common for students of the Department of Design to take one or two semesters at other universities and design schools abroad. As much as 70-80% of each class happily goas on exchange during the 3rd or 4th year.

Educational institutions







Asia og Oceania