Special Interest Group (SIG)

Collaborative Design

Interest: Research


The Collaborative Design SIG aims to initiate a collaborative design research agenda through addressing the following objectives:
- categorising and characterising collaborative design;
- understanding the true evolutionary nature of collaborative design;
- clearly identifying and understanding collaborative design inhibitors and activators;
- developing a collaborative design framework that circumvents collaboration inhibitors and supports collaboration activators, and;
- identifying the key challenges and research priorities based on the current and future economic, cultural and social environment.

The SIG plans to hold workshops at relevant design-oriented conferences and offer a range of forums and activities including: hosting presentations highlighting the diversity of collaborative design research; inviting industrial and academic case study presentations; evolving the SIG scope and agenda; and identifying funding opportunities. In recognition that there are common interests, it is planned where relevant to hold occasional joint workshops with other DS SIG’s to achieve mutual benefit.


World leading partnerships have been built through the development of collaborative design practices. Collaborative design is seen by many as an ideal mechanism for exchanging knowledge. When operating effectively, these partnerships have had a significant beneficial impact on productivity and the economy. A detailed consideration of the mechanisms for successfully supporting the collaborative design process through a fundamental understanding of the conceptual elements of collaborative design (that require management and nurturing) is lacking, but is needed by the research community.

The structure of a collaborative design partnership is dynamic in its nature. It evolves with the natural variation in the availability of the designers within the network and the technology that the designers use. This evolutionary nature presents challenges with respect to: the development of collaborative relationships to promote growth both individually and collaboratively; the management and sharing of intellectual property and the decision making process related to the management of the collaborative network.

Support for the fundamental aspects of collaboration is required for collaboration between geographically distributed and culturally different organisations to be effective. For example, information exchange is confounded by the confidential or restricted nature of the information as well as by other barriers to collaboration such as trust. Many existing solutions for supporting collaboration are in reality no more than a means of exchanging information. For these solutions to be truly effective a characterisation and framework for collaborative design is required in order that appropriate architectures can be developed to meet the specific requirements of differing collaborative design situations.


- Prof. Jean-François Boujut, Grenoble Institute of Technology, France;
- Prof. Marie-Anne le Dain, Grenoble Institute of Technology, France;
- Prof. Paul Chamberlain, Sheffield Hallam University, UK.

If you are interested in joining, please contact: Dr Avril Thomson; Dr Robert Ian Whitfield