ImaginationLancaster : Open-ended, anti-disciplinary, diverse

Cooper, Rachel and Dunn, Nick and Coulton, Paul and Walker, Stuart and Rodgers, Paul and Cruikshank, Leon and Tsekleves, Emmanuel and Hands, David and Whitham, Roger and Boyko, Christopher T. and Richards, Daniel and Aryana, Bijan and Pollastri, Serena and Escalante, Maria Alejandra Lujan and Knowles, Bran and Lopez-Galviz, Carlos and Cureton, Paul and Coulton, Claire (2018) ImaginationLancaster : Open-ended, anti-disciplinary, diverse. She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation, 4 (4). pp. 307-341. ISSN 2405-8726 (

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The paper is the story of building a design research group from scratch. As there has been some recent interest in design research as a team based activity, this article illustrates how we built the Imagination research team and how it continues to develop. This article gives us the chance to reflect on how far we have come in the last decade. Once we were a few dedicated members of staff wanting to bring design research to a small university in the north of the UK. Now we are one of the leading centers of excellence worldwide for design research. This article uses case studies from research projects and Ph.D. research to demonstrate Imagination’s research philosophy—open-ended and anti-disciplinary. We celebrate the plurality of ways design research is carried out. The article highlights how we use design research to address global challenges, and how these have also shaped our teaching and further research. We end by considering the value of design research and how we, as a team, can take Imagination forward into the next decade.