Established in 2016, the QUT Design Lab is the research centre in the School of Design, Creative Industries Faculty. From smart cities and design robotics to sustainable fashion and food, the QUT Design Lab researchers are tackling key challenges facing society, industry, community, and the environment.
Our mission is ‘Change by Design’, focused around three core programs:
- Design and Technologies of Tomorrow;
- Design for Communities and Resilient Futures, and;
- Design for Health and Wellbeing.
Our research is theoretically grounded, strongly applied in practice, and transdisciplinary. We welcome industry, government and community organisations interested in collaborating with us to get in touch with us. We also welcome inquiries from prospective applicants interested in studying with us for an MPhil and PhD degree.
Design and Technologies of Tomorrow
The Design and Technologies of Tomorrow Research Program fosters innovation and experimentation with interactive and design technologies, including virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing, rapid prototyping, and CAD. We foster research related to innovative design manufacturing approaches and design through making, with our on-site fabricator, maker-spaces, and digital design studios engaging students, industry and the broader public with design technologies.
We push technological boundaries, collaboratively creating, making and sharing. For example, our researchers have recently created interactive experiences for the blockbuster Marvel exhibition at GOMA, printed 3D ‘future fruit’ for the EKKA and are developing vison-enabled, agile and adaptable robots to create large-scale, bespoke public art projects. Focused on sustainable ‘smart fashion’, our industrial design and fashion researchers are designing garments with embedded technology, bio-textiles, 3D printing and cotton rapid customization, with other researchers exploring the internet of things, autonomous vehicles, the impact of automation and ‘smart cities’.
Design for Communities and Resilient Futures
The Design for Communities and Resilient Futures Research Program acknowledges that humanity is facing unprecedented challenges, due to climatic, environmental, geopolitical and technological changes, changing consumer expectations, and an ageing population. In response, we work closely with communities, industry and governments to bring about a more sustainable and resilient future.
We use an iterative inherently ethnographic, visual and action-research based approach to (re)design spaces, places, products, processes, transport systems, housing and public spaces. Methodologically, we use a range of design methods (visualization, scenarios, charrettes, co-creation) to initiate engagement, prompt critical reflection and facilitate innovation. We also use technology to visualize culturally / historically important sites, regions and cities, thus helping preserve and enhance our natural and built heritage. For example, we created a “Story City” app that activated the hidden space of the City Botanic Gardens (showing users how landscape architects ‘see’ the hidden world to design better places), and are working with secondary schools to integrate design thinking into the curriculum.
Critically, we draw on our site-specific knowledge and unique climatic characteristics of our location (Brisbane – Queensland, Australia) through a focus on design for humid and subtropical places, as well as designing ‘smart cities’ and disaster-resilient communities. For instance, in response to the 2011 and 2013 Queensland Floods, our industrial design students developed an Australian-first portable temporary flood barrier that is about to go into production.
Design for Health and Wellbeing
The Design for Health and Wellbeing Research Program uses design research to foster people’s health and wellbeing as individuals and as part of a community. Drawing on a deep understanding of people’s ideals, behaviours and practices, and their daily life interactions in their homes, their play, their workplace and their cities, we deliver knowledge contributions to support design interventions that are positive and meaningful for the future wellbeing of individuals, communities, and society at large.
From designing apps for health interventions to enhancing the ergonomic design of chairs or intergenerational playgrounds, our research is shaping new landscapes of health and wellness. Our researchers are working with psychologists to co-design digital tools that facilitate therapeutic interventions, and developing creative design solutions to enhance online counselling for young people. A particular research strength is design for disability and ageing, with our researchers exploring the experience of retirement living, dementia and aged care, focusing on spatial, landscape, industrial and interior design considerations, as well as how people with disabilities navigate the transport system and how we might redesign airports to facilitate the user experience.