Product designers, architects, engineers, urban designers, policy makers – in fact, designers from all fields – increasingly use the word ‘complexity’ to characterise both the design activity and its outputs.

In all different domains, the ‘complexity’ of design thinking, processes, outputs and organizations is one of the biggest challenges for designers today but also an intrinsic characteristic of design activity. The group undertakes multidisciplinary research combining methods and knowledge from complexity science as well as fields such as psychology, mathematics, social science, art and computing in order to examine the phenomenon of complexity and reveal some profound implications for design and designing today.

We have an international standing established through publication, dissemination and outreach, in areas such as artificial intelligence for design generation, adaptive architecture, autonomous machine systems, empirical and mathematical studies of coordination and phase transitions in design processes and teams, methods for managing complexity, multi-level network analysis of organizations and artefacts (from small objects to cities), computer simulations of design processes (focussing on creativity and collaboration) and studies on the interface between space and human behaviour. We lead an innovative research project using advanced brain imaging techniques to explore design cognition in collaboration with partners from cognitive neuroscience in Goldsmiths College and University College London doi:10.1016/j.destud.2009.05.002. Finally, we have been engaging with the art and design community in various ways including the organisation of workshops and exhibitions.

Katerina Alexiou
Theodore Zamenopoulos
Jeff Johnson

Recent projects and outputs:

The role of complexity in the creative economies: connecting people, ideas and practice
A new research project in collaboration with Kent University and Birmingham funded by AHRC under the Connected Communities programme. The aim of the project is to explore how complexity theory and its methodological approaches can help in providing a better understanding of the creative economy as a field of research.

Embracing Complexity in Design I & II
A research project funded jointly by AHRC and EPSRC under the Designing for the 21st Century Initiative (http://design.open.ac.uk/ecidII/index.html). The project fostered the development of a community of people working at the interface between design and complexity science. Its work culminated in a book outlining state-of-the-art developments by focussing on a variety of different themes and domains, including architecture, engineering, environmental design, art, fashion and management: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415497008/

Click here to view the group's publications