Chat with Daria
It was incredbly insightful talking to Daria who is also doing a PhD and teaching participatory design in Industrial design. We agreed on many issues, especially with teaching, and problems with conventional or traditional teaching methodologies.
Having spoken to her about RH project, she mentioned the interesting difference between how the ‘user’ was defined in my project, since the ‘client’ and ‘audience’ were both ‘users’ in a project like this. Thinking this further, definitions of the traditional boundaries of the ‘client’ and ‘audience’ may need to be clarified. When the framework is concerned with ‘people who are invoved with the designed outcome’, and in the context of User Centred design, both client and audience are equal partners in the whole process. Clients may commission the project, and therefore have more stake and control of the design, but when evaluating the objective of the communication outcome, both client and audience are equal stakeholders. I think it’s important to frame my topic in the way that recognises both groups, clarify the distinction between them, and put forward reasons why I am pursuing the ‘audience-centred’ approach as opposed to the traditional ‘client-centred or designer-centred’ one. It sounds obvious, but nothing should be said with assumptions.
We also discussed the difference of design, as craft, as opposed to designers having a different role (not sure what to coin that as of yet). She pointed out the redundancy of a designer equipped with the craft alone, if s/he doesn’t know how, when and what to apply it to. Design as a craft is similar to just knowing the tools or equipment – that being a master of it doesn’t necessarliy make you a better designer. Rather than that, she talked about being able to see relationships, understanding how things form and come together and when to apply the tools as necessary.
She also recommended some further readings into the UCD area too; she finds that the terminology, even though it does spell out what it is, User-centred design is specifically designing for users, there are different methodologies that are used, and therefore leads to ambiguity and confusion. One example is a non-contact ethnographical way of designing that may not specifically be for users, but still contain some form of ‘control’ by the designers. This is an interesting issue, the idea of ‘control’ as often it boils down to that.
There was also an interesting discussion about context and relationships again and developing a process that allows this openness. Either a ‘model’ or ’set of questions’ is not the answer. There is no answer. It had almost reached a philosophical point where, you could say, there is nothing to learn, but just to experience and be open to things you encounter. Between the nothingness and specificness, there is something there I’m sure.
Reggio Emilial School
> Constructivist teaching methods, where the process in which they teach focuses on students of how to learn. Programmes as early as 3 years of age. Peter Burrows also uses this methodology in his teahing – must talk to him.
> John Thackara – doors of perception. Again, another practitioner in this field.
> Participatory design conference organisers. Good concise written material on Participatory design, from 92, 94,; PDC proceedings; Participatory Design; Principles and practices
1 In what ways can a process that encourages direct engagement or conscious reflection of the identified audience enhance the designed artefact?
2 How would a more audience-centred approach to design impact on the designer / client relationship?
> From Management vs. Community de-brief, it seems that the designers’ experience of the participatory design process wasn’t markedly different from what was hypothetically expected. Even when the ‘client’ view conflicted with the ‘taskforce’ voice, there was no attempt by the designer to mediate between the two for a unified solution. Whether this is realistically achievable or not is in question, but the significant point is, that even though the client and designer were aware and fully supportive of the participatory process, the outcome and the designer-client relationship had been much the same. The effectiveness of this research question is in doubt if it only serves to note that things are just the same as before. Perhaps there are better ways of framing the question to allow other ways of evaluation.
3 What new skills and knowledge are required by the designer to adopt a more audience inclusive design process?
> Re-word as, ‘what new skills and knowledge would the designer adopt by undertaking an audience-inclusive design process?’. Having undertaken the RH Visual Id project, I believe I have gained considerable insight into design and communication process. By actually doing it, you learn more than theorising it, and I intend to change the research question so that the observations and discovery can be made more explicit.
4 Can socially framed, user-centred models for the design process be deployed to shift the market driven, service-orientation of the design profession – facilitating a more culturally engaged reflective practice?
> Again, this question may need to be re-examined in the light of UC design practice often being used in a market-driven context. There needs to be a distinction between the market-driven and socially oriented UC design, and how the latter further enhances the practice in a cultural and social way, given that the socially oriented UC design would be more likely used for socially driven project.
Leading to the project’s key Research Question;
In what ways can education practice facilitate the repositioning of communication strategies to be more inclusive of the audience and enhance the social contribution of graphic design?
> Daria may have insight into this, as her educational practice revolves around participatory design for students with real audiences. Again, as I have noted before, it may be the simple matter of carrying out a participatory design project within this programme that drives home the social contribution of communication design.
Chat with Cameron
Having discussed Management vs. Community project with Cameron, he suggests that I ‘mine’ down deeper for further investigations and multiple interpretations. More literature reading, and in particular Henry Sanoff he suggests, would enable me to extrapolate more data out of the observations I have made of Management vs. Community. In particular, the critical issues of the proces from the designers and my perspective, and its difference, and even from the taskforce group point of view. More literature reading should enable me to discover that participatory design does take place in commercial applications, and that there are differring slants to participatory design where some being more manipulative rather than consultative to achieve an intended outcome. He is recommending that I do a participatory design research, based on this project, and perhaps another one, and suggests that there is enough data here already to make this into a substantial research document/case study. I can see what he means, as the other approach, the one that has more breadth, may only seem to skim the surface by being so broad.
He also questioned what I am trying to achieve by doing this, what form of outcome it will take, and having listened to my reply, told me that my intention is still ‘too big’. This is true. Having done a participatory design project, I did realise how unrealisitc it is to replicate a process for normal design application that was so involved like Management vs. Community. However, it also made me realise that it is an area we don’t attempt to exposing the students in this programme. The educative input I have wanted to achieve may be as simple as undertaking a user-centred design process in one of the projects which will yield valuable and significant lessons in both practice and theory.