April. 2017 |  International Design Award | A' Design Awards, Italy| ToyBox: From utility to delight

A' International Design Award and Competition announces that the work ToyBox  has been awarded with the prestigious Silver A' Design Award at Social Design Competition. The International design award is the second won by the social design intervention. Team members include: Dr. James Self (supervisor), Kido Chang, Haemin Lee, Subin Kim and Sumin Lee [CLICK FOR MORE].

Mar. 2017 |  Journal Article Published | The Design Journal, Taylor & Francis  | resolving Wicked Problems: Appositional Reasoning & Sketch Representation

The article published in The Design Journal 20(3) explores a requirement for reasoning between design problems and their solution during conceptual design ideation and the role of sketching as evidence for and support of appositional reasoning [CLICK HERE FOR MORE]

Feb. 2017 |  Journal Article Published | Archives of Design Research | Mode-of-Use Innovation in Interactive Product Development

The paper, co-authored with Geehyuck Jeong (graduate student) explores use innovation within the interactive product design space to indicate the challenges and opportunities in designing for more innovative interactions. The article won best paper for issues 20(1). [CLICK HERE TO VIEW]

Dec. 2016 |  Industry project exhibited at International Invitational Exhibition | Seoul's Paper Gallary | Dec. 12th -16th

Professor James Self (School of Design & Human Engineering), together with collaborating UNIST faculty (Professor Chajoong Kim), industry partners (Minkyu Kim, CEO Boksoondoga) and DHE students (Sungkeun Lee), have been selected to exhibit design work at the 2016 KSDS International Invitational Design Exhibition at the "Paper Gallery' in Downtown Seoul.

Designers and professionals from 11 countries are participating in the invitational exhibition, with design works from UNIST including a collaborative industry project to provide design and engineering solutions, adding value to a local Ulsan-based producer of high-quality traditional Korean rice wine (Boksoondoga).

 In collaboration with industry partners Boksoondoga (복순도가) rice wines, adds value to the company through a combination of sensitivity to brand identity and engineering knowledge. In keeping with the Boksoondoga's desire for increased product range, the design team at UNIST provide a product addition targeted at individualized consumption. Problems of excessive overspill are also addressed through the development of a patentable 'stop-ridge' and 'discontinued' bottle-top thread and cap design, allowing the venting of trapped gas through a specially designed vent space.

December 2016 | Plant Diary | Prof. Self, in collaboration with Prof. Y.W. Park & student's design wins Bronze, Spark:Fall Concept, International Design Award.

With increasing urban populations and reduced living spaces, the use of indoor plants is growing. However, with the work and time pressures of an urban life, it is not always easy to manage the health of indoor plants. Through optimal humidity and temperature management, Plant Diary provides a design-driven solution through a smart, IoT approach. To achieve this, Plant Diary's sensor array is easily placed into the plant pot, cyclically providing information on plant humidity and temperature. This is then communicated to the Plant Diary application through the user’s smart device by Bluetooth connection. Based on the information received the application analyses the state of the plant, providing user prompts and notices: ‘water me’, change my solid’, ‘I need Nutrients’. Plant Diary's power is supplied through an eco-friendly solar panel charger.

A collaboration between Profs. Self and Park, Plant Diary is an example of an integration of elegant design and leading edge technologies to provide beautifully appropriate design.

December 2016 | EAT UP | Prof. Self & student's design recognised as finalist, Spark:Fall Concept, International Design Awards

With 1 in 3 US children now defined as obese or overweight EAT UP is a smart solution to provide data on eating habits and improve dietary health. Through the application of Near Field Communication (NRF) technology and load sensors, the modular design enables stakeholders (caregivers, teachers, parents) to monitor children’s dietary intake. A simple tag on system sends data to the EAT UP App, which is used to recommend healthier menus and bespoke dietary and food intake options. EAT UP’s modular structure can be arranged into various combinations for different meal and snack options. [CLICK HERE FOR MORE]

December 2016 | READER HELPER | Prof. Self & student's design recognised as finalist, Spark:Fall Concept, International Design Awards

With over 30 million adults suffering from dyslexia, Reading Helper is a smart product providing the support and confidence needed for dyslexia sufferers to successfully gain literacy. Reading Helper is a smart product that helps users both develop reading skill and fluency, while providing extra vocabulary support. Reading Helper utilizes an optical scanning head to scan text and more challenging passages as and when required. The smart product then transmits the input text to the user’s mobile device application which analyzes the font through Internet data gathering. Text from the page is then converted into sound. [CLICK HERE FOR MORE]

June-August 2016 | Dorien van Alphen interns at dpr Lab to conduct short research project related to her Masters Thesis work at TU Delft, Netherlands.

Study exploring the use of various tools of design during conceptual ideation sessions.

Study exploring the use of various tools of design during conceptual ideation sessions.


July 2016 | Prof. Self visit's New Designers exhibition in London with under and postgraduate UNIST students.

Student visits were also hosted by Loughborough University Design School in the midlands and at the newly opened Institute of Design Innovation on the Loughborough London campus.

Student visits were also hosted by Loughborough University Design School in the midlands and at the newly opened Institute of Design Innovation on the Loughborough London campus.

June 2016  | Seong Geun Lee (Masters Student) successfully presents research paper at special session on emotional design at DRS2016, Brighton, UK.

The paper entitled Most Advanced yet Acceptable: A case of referential form-driven meaning innovation, co-authored with Prof. James Self and Ekaterina Andrietc, explores how radical departures in product form implicates product acceptability [PAPER HERE]

Prof. Self chairs special session for DRS EKSIG (Experiential Knowledge Special Interest Group) at DRS 2016, Brighton, UK. [MORE HERE]

[eksig session] 20160628_111624.jpg

June 2016 | Co-Authored with Dr. Eujin Pei (Brunel Design Department, UK), Prof. Self publishes another opinion piece through Core77 | Why is Sketching (Still) Important (to Design)?

Prof. Self and Dr. Pei's article discusses the continued important of sketching to design and the reasons for its ongoing status as the iconic design tool in the face of proliferating digital tools, design methods and approaches [CLICK HERE TO READ]

June 2016 | Prof. Self and his design team (Subin Kim, Haemin Lee, Sumin Lee and Kido Chang) win two international design awards with the New York based Core77 Awards Competition.

Prof. James Self and his design team posing for a group photo. From left are Kido Chang, Haemin Lee, Hannah Self, Prof. Self, Subin Kim and Sumin Lee [CLICK IMAGE ABOVE FOR MORE].

Prof. James Self and his design team posing for a group photo. From left are Kido Chang, Haemin Lee, Hannah Self, Prof. Self, Subin Kim and Sumin Lee [CLICK IMAGE ABOVE FOR MORE].

Toy Box | From Utility to Delight | Changing the meaning of aid packaging to provide emotional relief to young hands and minds

Toy Box is a transformative package design offering opportunities for creative play for children in the most challenging of circumstances. Incorporating an innovative toy function to a simple cardboard box, it is specifically designed for use with existing relief aid cartons delivered by non-governmental organization and charities to developing countries and disaster areas.

The Toy Box Project was designed by Prof. James Self and his design team: Kido Chang, Haemin Lee, Sumin Lee and Submin Kim.

Core77, the leading, New York based industrial design periodical and promotion agency, released the full list of winners of the 2016 Core77 Design Awards on June 1, 2016. Awarded designs are honored over 14 categories by 54 expert jury members from 15 different countries, making the awards program amongst the biggest in the world.

May 2016 | Prof. Self wins Outstanding Contribution Award, the Design Conference, 2016.

Prof. Self's paper is placed in the top 5% based upon reviewers' scores at the Design Society's Design 2016 Conference for his paper enmtitled Problem or Solution Focused? Ill-defined Design Problems and the Influence of Design Ability [CLICK TO VIEW PAPER].

March 2016 | Dr. Thomas Jun (Loughborough Design School, UK) Research Seminar at DHE

Dr. Jun provides an interesting research seminar entitled Human Factors Design and Patient Safety: Past, Present and Future on a recent trip to Korea.

March 2016 | Dr. Self hosts Prof. Andrew Morris (Professor of Human Factors & Director of Internationalisation, Loughborough Design School, UK).

Prof. Morris provides an insightful DHE seminar on Ergonomics and Design before meetings at University level aimed at building upon an existing school level MOU between the DHE and Loughborough Design School with a University level agreement between UNIST and Loughborough University.

Feb. 2016 | International Journal of Technology & Design Education Article Published

Co-authored with Prof. Joon Sang Baek, Prof. Self's article describes how interdiscipliary approaches to design and engineering education implicate the student learning experience.

Self J. & Baek, J., S. (2016) Interdisciplinarity in design education: understanding the undergraduate student experience. International Journal of Technology and Design Education (First Online), p1-22.


Feb. 2016 | Archives of Design Research Published Article

Together with Kyohwe Koo and Prof. Jeong Yunwoo, the paper explores role role of retrospective automotive design in innovative meaning making. Koo, K., Self, J. A., & Jeong, Y. (2016).

Retrospective Automotive Design and Innovative Meaning Making: The influence of retro design features. Archives of Design Research, 29(1), 61-77. [click to view]

Feb. 2016 | Younghoon Hwang Msc Succefully defends Masters Thesis

Younghoon Hwang has successfully defended his Masters thesis entitled Exploring possibilities of a Semantic Approach to Colour, Materials and Finishing Design. He will stay on at the dpr Lab as a Resaerch Assistant.

Dec. 2015 | Study Trips to Loughborough Design School (LDS), UK.

As part of an internally funded project entitled: Endeavouring Interdisciplinarity in Design and Engineering: A comparative study of Korean and UK institutions, Prof. Self completes two short research secondments to LDS. Taking in interviews from undergraduate students and academic staff at LDS and the DHE at UNIST, the aim of our study is to identify and compare the barriers and drivers of undergraduate interdisciplinary education in Design and Engineering. Findings will contribute to a framework and guidlines for use in the development of interdisciplinary approaches.

November 2015 | iasdr: interplay 2015

Prof. Self together with Masters students presents three research papers a iasdr2015 in Brisbane, Australia. Dr. Self's paper explored differences between designers and non-designers use of sketching and implications for appositional bridge-building between problem and design solution [paper]. A second paper, co-authored with Jieun Bae and Prof. Chajoong Kim, looks at user responses to form-driven innovation [paper]. A third by Yoonyee Pahk, Prof. Self and Prof. Joon Baek examines how knowledge of use implicates the acceptability of typological innovations [paper].


October 2015 | Prof. Self visits Loughborough Design School, UK

to conduct research in collaboration with Dr Mark Evans, Thomas Jun and Darren Southee. Funded by a UNIST Innovation and Creativity Grant the research will explore the opportunities for and challenges to interdisciplinary undergraduate education.

Oct. 2015 | Two research papers published at the fall 2015 International Design Conference of KSDS and ADAD with Culus:

Hwang, Y. & Self, J (2015) Exploring Sybolic Meanings behind Personal Products of Attachment. In proceedings of KSDS 2015, Gwangju Korea.

Aug. 2015 | dpr Lab awarded research grant

to conduct comparative study of interdisciplinary design and engineering education (stratagies, methods, approaches, outcomes) between Korean and UK institutions. The Creativity and Innovation Fund will support work to identify the challenges and opportunities for  interdisciplinary pedagogic stratagies between the fields of design and engineering. 

June 2015 | dpr Lab awarded research grant

to conduct project entitled: Effective Conceptual Co-Design Ideation: Understanding and applying sketching as leverage for effective communication and appropriate concept choice.

The two year strudy will explore how sketches and illustrations, of various levels of detail and fidelity are seen and understood by multipul stakeholders. These findings will then be applied to the design and development of an intervention (tool, method, game, stratagy) for use in support of more effective co-design ideation. 

Feb. 2015 | Prof. Self, together with Prof. K.M Kim visit top European design schools for benchmarking and collaboration opportunities

 Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts

 Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts

Loughborough Design School

Loughborough Design School

          TU Delft | Department of Industrial Design

          TU Delft | Department of Industrial Design

Dr. Self and Dr Kim visit top design schools in the UK and northern Europe including Brunel Design, RCA, Loughborough Design School, GSA, Delft, Aalto Design Factory and TU/e to discuss collaborative opportunities in research and education between the DHE, UNIST and outstanding European institutions. The visits aimed to build upon existing relationships and set the foundations for future collaboration.

Dec. 2014 | International Journal of Design Article published | Link to Article

Dr. Self's paper examines design awards as means for firms to distinguish the quality of their design work from that of their competitors, thus acting as symbols of recognition. Although their benefits appear to be clear, the empirical study contributes to the knowledge and understanding of the factors that inform how the notion of a design award is perceived by those who may take part in awards competitions.

Nov. 2014 | Prof. Self Chairs Panel for international Design Symposium | KSDS Conference 2014, Reflecting on Design

The aims of theoretical academic design research and the pragmatic requirements of design practice in industry share both similarities and contradictory. What is the current state of relations between academic design research and industrial practice? What are the barriers and drivers for effective academic/industry collaboration? How can we – design academics, design educators, practicing designers and other industry stakeholders effectively collaborate for the benefit of design; the discipline and practice?

The panel consisted of two leading design academics; Profs Henri Christianns & Jan Carl Diehl, Delft University of Technology and two industry experts Mr. Youngjoon Kim, President of SADI and Mr. Chul Bae Lee, Vice President at LG Corporate Design Centre. Link to Panel question slides.


Nov. 2014 | Prof. Self presented with 'Best Paper Award' | KSDS Conference 2014, Reflcting on Design | LINK to Article

Prof. Self's article (co-authored with Dr. Eujin Pei) wins best paper award for his article published in the KSDS international journal, Archives of Design Research. The award was presented by the president of the Korean Society of Design Science at a ceremony during the conference.

September 2014 | Archives of Design Research Article Published | LINK to Article

Prof. Self and Eujin Pei from De montfort University, UK publish an article in Archives of Design Research 27(3): Reflecting on Design Sketching: Implications For Problem-Framing and Solution-Focused Conceptual Ideation. The work exploring the role and use of sketching during conceptual design was supported by the National research Foundation of Korea.

21st July 2014 | Core77 Article Published by James Self | LINK to ARTICLE

The article discusses the relationship between designerly tools and conceptual design practice to argue for more 'user' focused work to understand tool use in the representation, communication and development of design intent during design practice.

July 4th 2014 | MOU Signed between the DHE and Loughborough Design School

Thanks to the efforts of members of the dpr Lab, Prof. Andrew Morris (Director of Internationalisation for the Loughborough Design School) and James Self, an MOU has been signed by the Dean of LDS and the head of the DHE marking the foundations for future research and education collaboration between the two interdisciplinary schools.

June 2014 | The Design Journal Article Published | LINK to ARTICLE

James Self, Mark Evans (Loughborough Design School, UK) and Hilary Dalke (Kingston University, London) publish an article in The Design Journal, 17(2): The Influence of Expertise upon the Designer's Approach to Studio Practice and Tool Use{C}. the article presents a study examining the infleucne of design expertise upon the designer's attitudes towards and use of designerly tools.  Results indicate a relationship between limited experience and the designer's perceptions of and approaches to iterative exploration and design divergence. The use of certain designerly tools appear to compound a tendency for design convergence and fixation.

Ken Friedman

Ken Friedman

March 2014 | Design & prototyping Workshop | DHE, UNIST

With the help of DPR Lab members, Prof. Self conducts an Intro. to design workshop held at School of Design & Human Engineering, UNIST. Design and prototype a stool for one very specific purpose and one very specific use context. Teams of 4,  with little to no design experience or expertise. Go!

Febuary 2014 | Invited Speaker | DeMontfort University, UK

Prof. Self provides an invited research seminar on ongoing and up-coming research projects, activities and outcomes at the dpr lab, DHE, UNIST.

December 2013 | KSDS Conference Paper, Seoul | LINK to PAPER

James Self presents a paper at One conference Seoul. co-authors by Seong-geun Lee and Hyeonseok Bang the paper examines the Complexities of Design Representation from the of the subective and interprative point of view of the audience rather than the image itself.

August 2013 | Archives of Design Resaerch Journal Article Published | LINK to Article

Together with Eunjin Kim (DHE, UNIST) Prof. Self's article explores user perceptions of product innovativeness and desirability to provide a foundation for successive studies to link the conceptual principle of design innovation to real-world innovation as it is perceived and experienced by the user.

August 2013 | IASDR Conference Paper Presentation, Tokyo | LINK to PAPER

James Self travels to Tokyo with Sojung Kim (DHE, UNIST) to present a paper also co-authors with Seon Hee Jung (DHE, UNIST). The paper presents the results of a study to investigate the attributes of various visual design representations. Findings indicate the ways in which the attributes of design representations often defy clear identification and description.

June 2013 | CAD/CAM Review Special Issue Article Published | Link to Article

In an article published as part of a special issue for the journal, CAD/CAM review, James Self discusses the relationship between CAD tools and Creativity. The article call for a more user centred focus in exploring the benefits and constraints of CAD use and its influence upon creativity. The paper concludes by arguing for approaches to analysis, description and classification that focus upon purpose of use as a strategy to define and explain design representation and the critical role it plays in designerly ways of thinking and action.

July 2013 | DRS EKSIG Conference paper Presented, Loughborough Design School, UK | Link to Paper

Co-authored with Hilary Dalke (Design School, kingston University London) and Mark Evans (loughborough Design School, UK) James Self presents a study exploring how TDRs (Tools of Design Representation) are actually perceived and understood by designers of different levels of ability. The study contributes to an understanding of the designer’s perceptions of TDR use as these perceptions are themselves influenced by the context of design practice and the skills and experiences of the designer.

January 2013 | Article Published in Core77 | Link to Article

James Self travels to SWBK design consultanty in Seoul to interview Design Director and Co-founder, Sukwoo Lee. Prof. Self discovers, with very little surprise, that the use of sketching, modelling and analog tools of design representation are very much alive in this award winning design firm.

January 2013 | Visit to Shanghai Universities

Together with Profs. Xiong and NH Kim (DHE, UNIST) James Self visits  Shanghai Jiao Tong University, among others, to promote relations between top Chinese design and engineering schools and the DHE, UNIST, with presentations and visits recorded by Chinese media.

July 2012 | Journal Article Published in ADCHE 10(2) | Link to Article

The article, co-authored with Prof. Hilary Dalke (Kingston University, London) and Dr. Mark Evans (Loughborough Design School, UK), presents an innovative approach to the dissemination of research findings as a web-based tool and resourse to support industrial design pedagogy and practice. Findings suggest, although IDsite requires further development, the approach has relevance in terms of the communication of design knowledge.

August 2012 | Article Published in Core77 | Link to Article

Prof. Self discusses the role of uncertainty during conceptual design practice. The article reorientates uncertainty as a positive infleunce upon design conceptualisation and development by suggesting that to design is to understand uncertainty.

June 2012 | Invited Talk, Loughborough Design School, UK

Prof. Self provides an invited talk entitled: The  Language of Design, Designerly Tools and Design knowledge at Loughborough Design School, UK

Febuary 2012 | Article Published in Core77 | Link to Article

James Self (illustrations by Micheal DiTullo author of Analog dreams, designer at Frog, Nike) publishes a peice to compare CAD and sketching as tools for the representation of design intent. The article questions the benefit of comparing the two different media, instead calling for more work on the context of tool use and skills the designer brings to the 'tool-in-hand'.

Join US: Postgraduate and Research Student Opportunities

Are you interested in Design Practice Research?

Do you have skills and experience of design and/or research?

If so we offer Scholarships and funded opportunities for Masters (2 years) and Ph.D positions at the DPR Lab. Please contact Prof. Self for an initial, informal enquiry

Dr. James Self at the School of Design & Human Engineering (DHE), Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST):

E: jaself@unist.ac.kr | T: +82 (0)52 217 2722 | Fax: +82(0)52 217 2708