The Graphic Design Research Initiative (GDRI), housed at the Department of Arts & Humanities at the University of Houston-Downtown, is a self-sustained, collaborative studio initiative focused on the study and practice of design research, design for social impact, and information design, through the development of impactful and meaningful projects locally, nationally, and internationally. The main activity of this initiative is to offer substantial, effective, and innovative design solutions for real-world problems based on the methods and practices of design research and design thinking.

GDRI prioritizes the active integration and participation of UHD students in its projects in different design roles and during its development stages, according to their progressive graphic design knowledge and expertise. Such hands-on, real-world experiences offer solid professional development and practice to students in order to prepare them for the competitive graphic design profession. GDRI concentrates on forming students, theoretically and practically, in the fields of social design, information design and design research methods and practices. These sought-after design skills include creative development, problem-solving, ethnography, visual anthropology and information visualization.

At the same time, GDRI offers a new space at UHD for interdisciplinarity and cross-pollination, where students and faculty from fields outside of design can actively contribute and collaborate in the development of projects, based on design thinking practices. Such collaborative approach supports and facilitates the eventual individual and group participation of students at research conferences, inspire them to attend graduate school, and increase their possibilities to be hired by design companies, firms or non-profit organizations. Simultaneously, it supports the development of new scholarly creation, resulting in publications and articles, exhibitions and/or development of case studies.

Interested in collaborating with the GDRI team? Let us know what you have in mind.