Become a PhD student with the Design Research Innovation Lab. Learn more about the School of Design Innovation's research expertise and how to apply.

Design Research and Innovation Lab

The Design Research Innovation Lab at Victoria University of Wellingtonʼs (NZ) School of Design Innovation is pleased to announce we are currently accepting applications for students interested in pursuing a PhD in Design. The three application deadlines are 1 March, 1 July and 1 November.

Call for candidates

Victoria University of Wellingtonʼs Design Research Innovation Lab invites applications for PhD candidates. Prospective candidates with exceptional analytical and creative skills seeking to study design from cultural, philosophical, and practice-led perspectives are encouraged to apply. Potential candidates are expected to make a substantial contribution to design knowledge by extending current understanding within the discipline and discourse of design research.

The DRIL PhD programme emphasises the advancement of interdisciplinary knowledge, and supports practice-based research through an emphasis on creativity as a process of critical investigation. A practice-based PhD is expected to culminate in an original design composition and substantial written exegesis that critically analyses the methodology, process, and documentation of the final creative composition.

The program has three areas of concentration: Design for Social Innovation, Industrial Design and Media Design. Our current areas of research focus and expertise include:

  • Consumer cultures and the consumption of design
  • Data visualisation and data narratives
  • Design and emotion
  • Design ethnography and social design
  • Digital image industries and visual cultures of design
  • Experimental digital manufacturing
  • Social studies of science, technology and design
  • Speculative objects and interfaces
  • Sustainable systems of design.

DRIL is a dynamic research group driven by the interests and expertise of outstanding research faculty as well as the research projects of participating PhD students. The DRIL programme fosters a vibrant and collaborative interdisciplinary research environment that cultivates respect for different perspectives and emphasises a willingness to explore new and challenging ways of thinking, doing and making. While particular research strands are identified above, innovative collaborations are encouraged and new researchers will be supported through the development of research partnerships both within the University and externally with industry and public organisations. To support a variety of research interests and activities, students have access to excellent facility resources including multimedia computers and software, an electronics lab, woodworking and metal workshops, laser cutters, CNC routers and 3D rapid-prototyping facilities.

Through the Design Research Innovation Lab students also have the opportunity to actively participate in professional academic life. Our diverse faculty provide collegial mentorship in research activities from reading groups and proposal writing workshops to preparing conference presentations, exhibitions and publications. DRIL also supports the School's research-led teaching efforts, and postgraduate students have the opportunity to deliver design-related courses as part of our Bachelor and Master of Design Innovation programmes. Doctoral scholarships are available to exceptional students on a competitive basis, and further funding opportunities may be available through faculty research projects.

For details on how to apply, please contact the Wellington Faculty of Graduate Research or visit their website.
For information on scholarships, please visit the Scholarships website.

For further information, please contact

Director Postgraduate Programmes
School of Design Innovation

Senior Lecturer
School of Design Innovation

Documents required for PhD application

  1. A portfolio of creative work demonstrating the breadth of the applicantʼs prior experience in design or related creative discipline.
  2. A statement of research interests.
  3. An example of academic writing.
  4. Two referees’ reports provided on the correct Victoria University of Wellington template, sent by the referee only from a verifiable institutional email address, or as a signed hard copy.
  5. Verified transcripts and certificates for each national and/or international degree earned and, if from an EU country, the Diploma Supplement. (International students must also include grade conversion tables.)

PhD at Victoria University of Wellington

A PhD is an advanced research qualification carried out under academic supervision and is the highest degree offered by the Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation.

The PhD thesis is a major piece of original research that demonstrates the candidate’s ability to carry out independent research and constitutes a significant and original contribution to knowledge or understanding in a field of study. As well as intelligence and an aptitude for research, the degree requires considerable dedication and tenacity.

The minimum period of registration before a PhD thesis can be submitted for examination is 36 months full-time (or equivalent).

Wellington Faculty of Graduate Research

The Wellington Faculty of Graduate Research (WFGR) is the best place to start if you are interested in doctoral study at Victoria University of Wellington. Its website will link you to the online application process, provide you with details of available funding, application dates, and answers to questions you may have about what is involved in undertaking a PhD.

Your acceptance will depend on a number of factors, including your previous qualifications and experience, the suitability of your topic for PhD studies and our capacity to supervise you and your topic.


Each PhD candidate will have at least two academic supervisors. If you have identified someone you would like to work with you can indicate this on your application form, but please be aware that the final allocation of supervisors is made by the School.

Members of the Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation have a wide variety of research interests that may align with your area of interest for PhD study.

Staff research areas and publications are listed at the bottom of each staff member’s website profile.

Postgraduate research

The School of Design Innovation supports a vibrant research community of academic staff, external and industry partners, and postgraduate students. Our students work closely with staff and industry collaborators on research projects that address a wide range of contemporary design challenges.

Find out about the supervising staff, research groups, and study options available in our main research areas on the School of Design Innovation's Research site.

Contact us

Student administration for the Wellington Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation is located at:

Te Aro Campus
139 Vivian Street

Phone: +64 4 463 6200
Email: address