This paper describes the development and evolution of research themes in the Design Theory and Methodology (DTM) conference. Essays containing reflections on the history of DTM, supported by an analysis of session titles and papers winning the “best paper award”, describe the development of the research themes. A second set of essays describes the evolution of several key research themes. Two broad trends in research themes are evident, with a third one emerging. The topics of the papers in the first decade or so reflect an underlying aim to apply artificial intelligence toward developing systems that could ‘design’. To do so required understanding how human designers behave, formalizing design processes so that they could be computed, and formalizing representations of design knowledge. The themes in the first DTM conference and the recollections of the DTM founders reflect this underlying aim. The second decade of DTM saw the emergence of product development as an underlying concern and included a growth in a systems view of design. More recently, there appears to be a trend toward design-led innovation, which entails both executing the design process more efficiently and understanding the characteristics of market-leading designs so as to produce engineered products and systems of exceptional levels of quality and customer satisfaction.

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