Sunday, July 01, 2007

Argue for your design

One of the most interesting observation I have done lately, for instance at the Nordes design conference in Stockholm, is the drastically increasing demand for design argumentation. It seems that the pressure on designers are increasing, not only to come up with unique and desired designs, but also to create convincing reasons for the design. At the conference it was obvious that when the understanding of design increases among design clients, they are asking for substantial and elaborate arguments for why they should chose a specific design.

This change is interesting and creates a new situation for any design education. It is not enough to develop designs, students also have to develop their ability to reflect, reason, and argue for their design. The argumentation in design corresponds to methodological considerations in science. However, they are completely different in nature, purpose and form.

I think that all design educations need to take this new challenge seriously and include in design courses a higher awareness of design argumentation, and how to develop it.


Apurva said...

Eli's class (at least the one I was in in Spring 2005) was set up somewhat in this way. Core design decisions stemming out of arguing why design choices were made the way they were.

I think arguing for your design is very essential, and its nice that people are waking up to it - especially now since form is sometimes taking precedence over good function.

Stolterman said...

Hi Apurva

Thanks for your comment! Yes, you are correct that Eli has been a proponent for design argumentation. I am happy to see that you have the same experience as I. I am sure this will be something that more people will soon realize.

I hope you are doing well in your job!!

Prof. M P Ranjan said...

Dear Prof Stolterman

I agree with your insights on the change in demands from the stakeholders of design including clients and user groups. However this calls for articulate designers who are both well informed and wise about the world and with value systems that can give sound judgement. A tall order for our design schools in the existing format. Others are showing the way, examples such as the KaosPilot and the Rotmans School of Management came to mind. But the big question is how do we get this embedded into the core education of our designers?
Prof. M P Ranjan, NID, Ahmedabad

Stolterman said...

Dear M P Ranjan

It is nice to your presence here on my blog! I am so sorry that we have not yet been able to meet.

I like your comment and you are right. This is a "big question" and a challenge for all design educations today. It is definitely not realized enough and I am sure that over time it will be a competitive advantage for any education that can show that they include this in their curricula.

best wishes

Apurva said...

I find Prof Ranjan's comments very true. Our core program at IU from the very beginning is about community, connections - and as Marty puts it, about bringing together good values as we design, not stopping at thinking at the micro levels, but thinking beyond. As always, it is very difficult to bring this value system to think globally, because global is a very large scale - and something will always give. But at least bringing about the realization and design cognizance to think about the global scale does not hurt, and teaching it helps immensely.