Richard Buchanan - Professor, Design & Innovation

Faculty – Richard Buchanan

Professor, Design & Innovation
Chair Professor of Design Theory, Practice, and Entrepreneurship, College of Design & Innovation, Tongji University
Editor, Design Issues: A Journal of design history, theory, criticism published by MIT Press
Peter B. Lewis Building 334
Office Hours: By Appointment Only

Richard Buchanan, PhD, is well known for extending the application of design into new areas of theory and practice, writing, and teaching as well as practicing the concepts and methods of interaction design. He argues that interaction design does not stop at the flatland of the computer screen but extends into the personal and social life of human beings and into the emerging area of service design, as well as into organizational and management design.

In keeping with this conviction, Buchanan has worked on the redesign of the Australian Taxation System, the restructuring of service products and information for the U.S. Postal Service, and other consulting activities. At Weatherhead, he has researched “collective interactions,” focusing on problems of organizational change and the development of management education around the concept of Manage by Designing. His most recent projects involve strategy and service design, including patient experience, information services, and public sector design.

Buchanan is a widely published author and frequent speaker. His books include DISCOVERING DESIGN: EXPLORATIONS IN DESIGN STUDIES, THE IDEA OF DESIGN, and PLURALISM IN THEORY AND PRACTICE. He is coeditor of DESIGN ISSUES, the international journal of design history, theory and criticism. Buchanan has served for two terms as president of the Design Research Society, the international learned society of the design research community.

He received his AB and PhD from a prestigious interdisciplinary program at the University of Chicago called the Committee on the Analysis of Ideas and the Study of Methods. Before joining the Weatherhead School of Management faculty in 2008, he served as head of the school of design and then as director of doctoral studies in design at Carnegie Mellon University. While at Carnegie Mellon, he inaugurated interaction design programs at the master’s and doctoral level.

In 2009, Buchanan received an honorary doctorate from the Faculté de l’aménagement (Environmental Design Faculty) at the University of Montréal.

PhD, The University of Chicago, 1973
AB, The University of Chicago, 1968

Initially Appointed: 2008

Interests and Courses

Recent Courses and Syllabi

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  • Buchanan, R. (Presenter & Author)  Design and Organizations, "Keynote: Design and Innovation in Organizations", Lucerne University of Applied sciences and Arts (Hochschule Lucerne, Lucerne, Switzerland. (2017).
  • Buchanan, R. (Coordinator/Organizer)  Design and Organizations, "Workshop: Risk, Ethics, and Principles in Design", Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Hochschule Lucerne), Lucerne, Switzerland. (2017).
  • Buchanan, R. (Presenter & Author)  “Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSTD 6)”, "Keynote: Dialectic and Inquiry in Design: Understanding Surroundings & Systems, Designing Environments", Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Oslo, Norway. (2017).
  • Buchanan, R. (Presenter & Author)  Summit on Law + Design, "Keynote: The Restless Imagination: Wicked Problems and the Foundations of Design", Stanford University, Law School, D-School, Palo Alto, CA. (2017).
  • Buchanan, R. (Presenter & Author)  12th Annual Innovation Forum, "Keynote: Design, Value Creation, and the Products We Love", Princeton University, Keller Center, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Princeton, NJ. (2017).
  • Buchanan, R. (Presenter & Author)  Creative Mind and Leadership Lecture Series: Design, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship Series, "Design and a Liberal Education", Princeton University, Princeton, NJ. (2017).
  • Buchanan, R. (Presenter & Author)  Lecture for the University Community, "Design & Creativity: Invention, Discovery, Innovation, and Intuition", Princeton University & the Keller Center, Princeton NJ. (2017).

Academic and Professional Activities

  • Committee Member, Curriculum Committee, 2011 - 2012


  • Doctorat Honoris Causa, Université de Montréal, Faculté de l’aménagement. (2009).