What is the role of a design brief?
The role of the design brief is to provide a preliminary description of a project that often includes estimates of costs and fees (American Institute of Architects (AIA). It includes a vison of the project that includes a description of all the stakeholders involved.
What are the key tensions inherent in a design brief that seeks responses that are distinctly different from the status quo?
The tensions inherent in a design brief that seeks to be distinct from the status quo is that making being specific enough to include costs means that assumptions are made creating possible ‘blinkered’ as opposed to ‘peripheral’ vision stifling innovation hence conforming the project to the status quo. This can mean that at worst only the ‘known knowns’, the things we know we know, are adhered to and at best the ‘known unknowns’, the things we know we do not know’ are considered.
The conduction of ethnographic research, where empathising with the ‘user’ is required is extremely important, is required to come up with novel solutions to problems. The TED talk by Paul Bennett really highlights the need to empathise to ensure vital aspects at the ideation stage are not missed. To truly empathise means to minimise assumptions as much as possible so opportunities can be seen and be turned into solutions. A design brief that pre-empts what might be included in a project risks such a process.
Hatchuel, Le Masson, Weil (2004) outline the development of concepts leading to Mg-CO2 based engine where they were dealing with ‘wicked problems’ (Buchanan 1992) that have no definite right or wrong answers.
To reach this point of the new engine Scientists and engineers had to move away from the Knowledge domain to the concept domain in order to generate new ideas to then move back into the knowledge domain where new knowledge is constructed.
The scientist behind this, Roger Shawyer, was initially ‘laughed at’ but this new technology is now being taken more seriously. This is an example of where science can benefit from moving beyond the knowledge domain to the concept domain to generate new knowledge.
Buchanan, R. (1992). Wicked Problems in Design Thinking. Design Issues, 8(2), p.5.
Hatchuel, A., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2004). CK theory in practice: lessons from industrial applications. In DS
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Melles, G. (2010). Curriculum design thinking: a new name for old ways of thinking and practice? Sydney:
Proceedings of the DTRS8 Conference 299-308. http://www.academia.edu/392724/Curriculum_Design_Thinking_A_New_Name_for_Old_Ways_of_Thinking_and_Practice
NASA Tests 'Impossible' Engine, Finds Out It's Really Fast. (n.d.). Retrieved July 30, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxRdNj0_8JU
Nasa says EmDrive does work and it may have also created a Star Trek warp drive. (2015, April 30). Retrieved July 30, 2015, from http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/nasa-says-emdrive-does-work-it-may-have-also-created-star-trek-warp-drive-1499098