University of Sydney Handbooks - 2019 Archive

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Areas of interest – Design Lab

Design Lab

The Design Lab is committed to interdisciplinary, design-led research that leads to improved interactions and experiences through and with digital technology.

Research in the Design Lab focuses on three core aspects of design: the process and theory of human-centred design; the design of innovative solutions; and the use of digital products.

Research projects in the Design Lab span the two broad areas of interaction design and creative technologies. These areas are combined and extended through collaborations across and beyond the Design Lab into more specialised research areas including design thinking, experience design, interactive media, media architecture, urban informatics, urban data design, human-robot interaction, computational creativity, and wearable technology. The members of the Design Lab apply their research to a diverse range of applications including architecture, urban and regional planning, transport, healthcare, education, and the creative industries.

The Design Lab provides the environmental and resources to facilitate collaborations with industry and communities, providing opportunities for enhancing current practice, environments, and systems through design.

For further information contact Associate Professor Martin Tomitsch (

) or any member of the discipline.
Creative Systems and Robotics

Research on creative systems in the Design Lab includes the development and evaluation of computational models of individual and social creativity. Computational models of individual creativity involve an agent and some environment that the agent can change; design is fundamentally about how an agent changes their environment. The aim of these models of social creativity is to provide frameworks for investigating the nature of creativity without the additional complexities inherent in human societies. Research in this stream includes the exploration of social robotics with a focus on the interaction between humans and social robots.

Data Analytics and Visualisation

Research in this stream focuses on two areas:

  • using data analytics to drive design and design decisions, and
  • the human-centric, aesthetic visualisation of digital information.

These areas are applied across a range of application areas and scales, from urban planning to health informatics, and from online visualisation tools to large-scale dashboard visualisations.

Designing for Health and Wellbeing

Research on health and wellbeing in the Design Lab combines design-led research practice with creative technologies to investigate how computing technologies can help to support healthy living and life styles in home environments, at work, and in cities.

Media Architecture and Smart Cities

The Design Lab's research on media architecture focuses on design issues, technological challenges and social aspects around the integration of digital technologies into the urban space. It uses a research-through-design approach to conceptualise, develop, and evaluate interventions that link digital and physical spaces with the aim to improve urban liveability.

This research stream includes the investigation of design-led approaches to smart city solutions, that focus on empowering citizens and civic leaders through targeted interventions.

Performance, Body and Technology

Research in this stream focuses on the development of methods for working with the creative potential of the moving body, drawn from movement improvisation, dance and somatic practices, which can be appropriated by designers.

This includes research on wearable technologies across a range of applications areas, including physical activity and health.

Urban Data Science

The Design Lab's research on urban data science is pushing the interface between traditional urban studies, economics, design, and planning and new multi-disciplinary regimes brought in by research in complex systems, sensor technologies, network science, physics, machine learning and data science.

This includes research on city science and urban computing, and the application of novel data mining and computational methods for solving problems in urban design and planning research.

Research in this stream especially focuses on the social and economic dynamics of housing and transportation in the city.