L. Bruce Archer

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Leonard Bruce Archer (1922-2005) was a design theorist, engineer and academic.

Between 1956-60, Archer lectured in Industrial Design Engineering at the Central School of Art and Design, London. In 1960, Tomás Maldonado invited him to join the faculty of the Ulm School of Design, where he wanted Archer to mediate between several camps of faculty who had firmly set views about the nature of design (he stayed there for the academic year 1960/61). Afterwards, Archer was recruited by Misha Black to be Research Fellow at the Royal College of Art, to head a research project on the design of hospital equipment. Between 1964-c84, Archer served as the head of the Industrial Design Research Unit (later Department of Design Research) at Royal College of Art, London

In 1988-90 he was chair of the Design Research Society; in 1992-2000 its honorary president.


  • Systematic Method for Designers, London: Council for Industrial Design, 1965, 40 pp. Based on a series of articles in Design magazine (1963-64). The method involves six basic stages: programming, data collection, analysis, synthesis, development and communication.
  • The Structure of Design Processes, Springfield, VA: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1968, 211 pp. Doctoral thesis, Royal College of Art, London.
  • "The Structure of the Design Process", in Design Methods of Architecture, eds. G. Broadbent and A. Ward, New York: Wittenborn, 1969.
  • Technological Innovation: A Methodology, Frimley: Inforlink Ltd for Science Policy Foundation, 1971.
  • "Design as a Discipline", Design Studies 1:1 (Jul 1979), pp 17-20. Based on a lecture delivered at the Manchester Regional Centre for Science and Technology on 7 May 1976. Advocates a view of design as a third way of thinking on a par with, and distinct from, science and the humanities.
  • "A view of the nature of design research", in Design: Science: Method, eds. Robin Jacques and James A. Powell, Guilford: Westbury House, 1981, pp 36-39. With an appendix of a long list of studies that had been carried out by students in the Department of Design Research at RCA; a second appendix lists the studies in related departments that focused on art and design history, design education, and graphic design.
  • "The Nature of Research", Co-design, Jan 1995, pp 6-13. A review of concepts of research in science, the humanities and art; discusses the implications of practice-led research in design; introduces a three-part model of research into practice, for practice and through practice. [1] [2]
  • "The Nature of Research into Design and Design Education", 2007. Keynote address.
  • Autobiography of research at the Royal College of Art 1961-1986, unpublished manuscript.
  • Courses in design research 1976-77, unpublished lecture notes.