The design process always operates in a social, cultural, historical, economic and political context. To ignore this context is to compromise the quality of the resulting product (whether an artifact or a space,) the social and legal responsibility of the designer, and the behavior, health and lives of the inhabitants. Success in creating enduring and well-appreciated design lies in recognizing its ability, among other things, to safely envelop, inspire, accommodate, soothe, nourish and enliven diverse peoples’ lives. By operating with a keen, reasoned awareness and experience of the context, a designer can be more responsive to current needs and pursue innovative measures to achieve and surpass design objectives. By no means is this an easy task; balancing all the contextual factors with the fundamentals of design (e.g. form, color, texture,) structure, style and budget indeed seems Herculean. What makes it easier is the presence of intelligently fashioned and well conducted research investigating and explaining key relationships between the contextual factors (e.g. environment-behavior research.)
Knowing how to recognize good research and use it, or how and where to obtain assistance in using it, is a much-needed asset in any designer’s repertoire of skills. Thus, a designer is a creative and innovative coordinator of many ideas including sound research findings and own empathetic experience. EDRA offers many opportunities for designers to engage in meaningful conversations and collaborations with researchers and embark on research of their own that can result in good, humane design.