Last week I spent in Umeå, Sweden (my old home town) not only to meet family and friends or to work at the Institute of Design, but also to participate in the DRS 2014 Conference. I have been involved in the planning of the conference but from a distance. I have been to a number of these conferences over the years. I am happy to say that this years conference was by far the best one yet (and it is not only because I was involved :-)
The conference had somewhere around 370 participants! The introduction of "Debates" and "Conversations" (organized by Jamer Hunt and Carl DiSalvo) was a great success of bring new formats into the conference. The quality of the papers were also, in my view, better than before, which was a consequence of an improved review process (handled by Youn Lim and Kristina Niederer). Overall, the conference was a success. I only heard good things from happy participants.
The idea we had in the planning was to keep developing the DRS conference into the design conference that is not about a particular field of design or a particular aspect of design, instead it is the conference for the "big debates", the issues, questions, and challenges that all design areas are facing.
The overall design of the conference also worked really well with all aspects taken care off by Johan Redström, Anna Valtonen and Heather Wiltse.
I hope that the next conference in 2016 will continue to develop this conference in this way, then the DRS conference will become the most important design research conference.