Areas of Focus in DEA Research

Design History, Theory and Criticism

(Professor Emerita Jan Jennings, Professor Kathleen Gibson)
The Intypes (Interior Archetypes) Project is the primary research project in the Design History, Theory and Criticism specialization. Research for the project is generated by an interdisciplinary research group of four graduate faculty representing three Cornell colleges, and Master of Arts graduate students in interior design. The project produces a new knowledge base from practice-led research by creating the first typology of contemporary design practices that are derived from historical sequences. The research identifies design traits that have not been named, generates a design-specific vocabulary and publishes a digital database of interior architectural photographs. The research is available as a resource tool for professionals, students and those interested in design on a free and open web site:

Design Leadership

(Professor Sheila Danko)
The study of Design Leadership explores the potential of design as a transformative force in business and society by examining the intersection of leadership practice with design strategy. This research moves beyond material artifact towards an understanding of design as a tool for leadership and social change. It crosses disciplinary boundaries, fusing leadership and creative problem-solving theory to understand change from a whole systems perspective – as part of an interrelated system of people, process, product, and place. The goal is to reveal the intangible qualities of design, the social values behind design decisions, and the nuances of design process, particularly as they engage leadership strategy and affect decision-making. DEA faculty are exploring a variety of leadership issues including designing for corporate social responsibility, sustainable business practice, environmental sustainability, cultural diversity, gender equity, and social justice.

Health and Well Being

(Professors Frank Becker, Gary Evans, Alan Hedge, Ying Hua, Joe Laquatra, Lorraine Maxwell, Nancy Wells, So-Yeon Yoon, Rana Zadeh)
DEA faculty in the area of Health and Well-Being study how the built and natural environment influence the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. They use a variety of research approaches ranging from experimental to case studies. Research is done both in the laboratory and the field, and depending on the specific research questions, data is collected using techniques that range from surveys and systematic observation to interviews and archival data. Working in schools, residential communities, hospitals, offices and other settings DEA faculty are exploring the relationship between the design of the built environment and obesity, patients’ perceptions of the quality of healthcare, safety and injuries, children's opportunities and life chances, and Alzheimer's patients’ life experience.

Special Populations

(Professors Paul Eshelman, Gary Evans, Alan Hedge, Lorraine Maxwell, So-Yeon Yoon)
There are many population segments that deviate from the healthy norm in society due to stage in human development, injury, disease, congenital condition, or genetic abnormalities. People in these special populations can be relegated to low levels of functionality or can be helped to function at higher levels depending in part on the supportive nature of the settings in which they live. How to achieve appropriately supportive settings is the focus of the "Special Populations" research area in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis.

Sustainable and Regenerative Design

(Professors Sheila Danko, Jack Elliott, Alan Hedge, Ying Hua, Joe Laquatra)
Sustainable and regenerative interior design research investigates the relations between the enclosed built environment and the local, regional, and global biophysical natural systems that are affected. Today, growing numbers of people are spending more of their lives in enclosed spaces, placing increasing demands for energy and resources on a limited natural world. The goal is to find new ways to intervene that go beyond doing less harm to ultimately doing some good, for our own health and well-being ultimately depends on the health and well-being of the natural systems that support us.

Workplace Strategies and Design

(Professors Frank Becker, Alan Hedge, Ying Hua, So-Yeon Yoon, Rana Zadeh)
The planning, design, and management of the workplace can have a major effect on the recruitment and retention of employees, and also on their comfort, health and productivity. Faculty conduct research on a variety of workplace issues, including: how the layout and design of the workspace affects communication and collaboration; how indoor air quality affects the health and performance of workers; the effects of keyboard and chair design on employees; and key success factors associated with innovative alternative workplace practices such as hoteling and telework. Research ranges from qualitative to quantitative, and from the laboratory to the field. The goal is to generate research findings that contribute to the development of healthy and high performance work environments.


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