It’s been tough!

Design Projects 3 have been suffering this last week – the main reason for this is because each and every one of the year have been entrenched in writing their own true design brief (probably for the very first time) and that is……hard. The clients have outline the areas that the designers can work within along with technology materials etc that are to be utilised but it has been the job of the designers to negotiate their briefs with the staff. This was done by each designer presenting 3 written project proposals and then discussions with the staff ensued. Its been a tough week for all concerned but armed with a good design brief it should set up the designers well for the next stages of their projects.

A few paragraphs follow outlining the 'traps' many young and not so young designers fall into:

The Category Trap.

The most obvious trap for the inexperienced designer to fall into is identifying the problem by the category of the solution most commonly found. E.g. ‘housing design’
Too many designers look through magazines and assess designs remotely focusing on organisational and visual properties.

The Puzzle Trap.

Design problems are not puzzles. There are not correct or even optimal answers to design problems. The designer cannot recognise a ‘right’ solution.

We are prepared to invest a lot in solving puzzles even pointless ones and we seems to ‘need’ to be able to recognise the correct answer. Design problems may have puzzle like components but design problems are not rigidly defined.

THERE IS NO RIGHT ANSWER so don’t keep looking for one!

The Number Trap.

Such faith do we put in numbers that arguments in favour of a design which has some lower number than an alternative will frequently fall of deaf ears.

Do not argue the validity of a design via maths alone.

The Icon Trap.

Drawing can become a trap. Designers are visually sensitive and graphically skilled, and it is all to easy for the designer to become gradually more interested in what the drawing looks like rather than what it represents.

All drawings have their shortcomings as well as their possibilities.

The Image Trap.

The designer invariably has an image of the final design held in the mind; however there can often be a mismatch between intention and realisation in design.

All too often students are happy to accept ideas without testing the realisation.

The image trap is never far away when the design begins to assume the physical and social reality of the images which are being used. They must be accepted as possible hypothesis rather than accepted as developed theses.

(Adapted from How Designers Think, Bryan Lawson, 4th edition, pgs 220-232, Architectural press, ISBN 0-7506-6077-5)

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