Retelling the story of design
By Thomas Fischer, Herbert Hsu | 2010
What was your design, again?
Do designers creating new ideas hold the complete concept of their own designing and can clearly report it to others? Or do they change the stories of designing to cater to the one who listens or even embellish their stories in order to make up for difficulties of their works? This research about design project studies designer who re-tell their stories of their own designing, and to examine how elements accounts of their own designing remain unchanged over time or how they change. Are there changes in re-told stories of designing, and, if so, is there a pattern in those changes?
I conducted a five-week experiment, during which I studied two experienced design students. They were each required to design one unique electronic keychain. Immediately after they finished, they were asked to describe the key concept and the design process to an interviewer. This interview was repeated once a week for five weeks. Each interview was conducted by a different interviewer to reduce the potential interruption of accounts. During the interviews, designers were allowed to describe the previous design while re-visiting one key image of their previous project design. To find patterns in their repeated accounts after experiment, I analyzed the transcripts of five interviews of the first design, and color-coded them.
I found that the stories told by designers about their own designing changed slightly over time. Facing different interviewers at different times, part of their accounts are changed, concealed or added that different interviewers are presented with different stories of designing. Based on this study, it is impossible to tell whether designers change their story willingly or knowingly. But what is obvious is that with each interview a different picture was drawn of the same design process. This cast some doubts on the widely practiced approach of interview-based empirical design research that the researcher cannot obtain the whole picture about a story of design process by listening to the designer retelling them. Verbalizing design is another act of designing.
However in another approach to the finding it is interesting to see how different interviews perform as different instruments in retesting the concept in designer’s mind. Similar to multiple triangulation in empirical research, it brings revision and creativity to the same design.
The design of experiment
" Verbalizing Design is another act of design."
Special thanks to advisor Thomas Fisher for all the teaching about design and cybernetics.
Nature of design and storytelling
Design research visualization
Variation in design research
Research & experiment design
In a Nutshell
Research about how designers telling their design stories differently over time - Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Planning and Design: New Perspectives