Serendipity as a Catalyst. Knowledge Generation in Interdisciplinary Research

Riikka Townsend, Jussi Mikkonen

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Our paper discusses the design-led processes in a project starting asmultidisciplinary, focusing on three serendipitous cases that influenced the outcomesand the textile-design-research path taken in the overall project. The work presentedhere revolved around semiconductive cotton, suitable for textile design, andexamines it from the design team perspective. This paper identifies and discussesthree cases, as they had considerable weight on the project path. In order tounderstand these cases, we evaluated them based on a model for a serendipitousexperience. The follow-ups to the serendipitous connections gave empowerment tothe design research team, increasing their ownership of the research results. Relaxingboundaries between disciplines and varying routines have been highly relevantfactors in the new knowledge generation. Ability to perform a consented andsignificant diversion to the research path was crucial for reacting to the serendipitousdiscovery and establishing the research space of the interdisciplinary project.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDesign Journal
Issue numberSuppl. 1
Pages (from-to)1853-1869
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event13th International Conference of the European Academy of Design: Running with Scissors - University of Dundee, Dundee, United Kingdom
Duration: 10. Apr 201912. Apr 2019
Conference number: 13th


Conference13th International Conference of the European Academy of Design
LocationUniversity of Dundee
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Serendipity
  • interdisciplinary
  • textile design research
  • empowerment
  • change

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