Designing the Reconfiguring Artefacts Design Process

The design process is a guiding and orientation device which we use in innovation projects. While often, tacit understandings guide our work as designers, the making explicit of our guiding framework is the attempt to make it accessible and reconfigurable to our needs and conditions. The design process itself can therefore be our tool that we can design according to our local needs.
Together with 3rd year Management by Design students, we developed a representation of the design process we were using. It had been part of the semester project, to think about how we may represent our design process and its particularity. It was challenging to think about the design process simultaneously as something to be used and to be designed.
We see design as a practice that renews itself while being practiced. The mechanisms of change are present in the practice of design itself. Therefore, any change made through design, is tied to changing its own designers and its local conditions. Understanding design in this way, it is necessary to make the conditions of design and the design process visible, and utilizing this process of visualizing as a reflection and innovation of the practice itself.

Management and Design are equal parts of our particular design / learning / innovation practice. The “x” expresses the “by” and emphasizes at the same time its interconnectedness.

Terminology such as “Empathy” are leaned from understandings of design postulated by IDEO or by Stanford dschool. Also “open innovation” is a particularly connoted in the discourses around human-centredness and participation in design decision making. Because of these connotations, it was necessary to rethink these words and making them more precise in their meaning how we want to use them.

‘Hands-on proactivity’ was equal to ‘making’, emphasizing design’s capability to deal with the robustness and resistance of materials, and their shaping. ‘Open innovation’ was meant to draw attention to the necessary teamwork and collaboration in design processes that acknowledged interdisciplinary expertise and the multiplicity of the sources of knowledge required to successfully innovate. ‘Bricolage’ was the word inspiring the original ‘recombination’ and was replaced with ‘integration’, expressing design’s role in synthesizing and building relations. ‘Empathy’ was meant to express the centricity of human experience in design, and its mechanisms to bring it to the forth. However, in order to emphasise the relationality of human experience and its multi-directional flow within relationships between people, we simply use the word ‘experience’.  ‘Prototyping’ is the core of iterative working, by experimenting with different things, probing ideas, we therefore go with the word probe, which not unintentionally leans also on ‘cultural probes’ (Gaver, Dunne & Pacenti, 1999), a technique to evoke different responses from use scenarios through design artefacts, which may in turn taken up again in design practice. The word ‘probe’ should reiterate the recursive and relational nature of making and experiencing.

This translation process allowed us get to a representation of the “Management by Design” design process with the following activities: 1. Experience, 2. Imagine, 3. Integrate, 4. Make, 5. Probe, 6. Iterate.

Next, we worked on creating a visual shape and order for the process and its activities. We had previously experimented with the “x” as a representation of relationality, and extended it to a star in order to emphasise the multi-directionality of relations, and in order to accommodate more elements in the relational system.

We took up the multi-element shape, and derived a windmill-type graphic with arrow-shaped sails connected at a central hub, hinting at a possible rotating movement.

Filling the shape with words, we derive the following graphical representation. 6 principles drive our recursive design process: 1. Experience, 2. Imagine, 3. Integrate, 4. Make, 5. Probe, 6. Iterate. We add in inverted style the words ‘management’ and ‘design’, to reflect the name of the design course ‘management by design’, hinting at ‘management’ as the ephemeral and conceptual stage, and ‘design’ as the practical stage.

References

Gaver, W., Dunne, A., & Pacenti, E. (1999). Cultural Probes. Interactions.