[B]logbook by Mette Agger


Quit the term ‘representation’ in design work…
November 25, 2009, 12:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Quit the term ‘representation’ in design work…  Representations ‘represent’ something which is already here – anthropological documentations for example aim to represent or document current practices – but Bo Westerlund argues that it is misleading to use this term in design work. ‘Representation’ is a quite common word used in design work to describe the various things and visualizations for example capturing proposals for possible future applications and practices – like the many different video prototypes used as examples in his thesis. However, as he argues the various kinds of stories we tell and visualizations and materializations we make about possible futures are the best we can do at that particular time. When there is nothing yet to represent, as it does not exist yet, he rather suggests talking about ‘proposals’.

–          This is of course an interesting point of view in relation to my explorations of roles of materials in co-designing, and to me it clearly makes sense not to speak about ‘representations’ when dealing with possible new futures…

Focus on aims rather than goals when exploring your design space in the fuzzy front end of innovation projects, is another of his quite practical arguments. As the title of his thesis indicates, “Design Space Exploration” is his main issue. From his many experiences he has found that in the projects where they too quickly set the goals of what to deliver, the motivation to really explore the design space for the purpose of discovering new grounds and insights were not as strong as in the projects where they initially focused on setting the aims or intensions of the project.

–          Another interesting point supporting my way of working during my PhD project. From my training as an architect, instead of ‘design space’ I use the term ‘program’, but the point is the same to set a framing to work within, which sets some constraints, but which at the same time is flexible and open enough to be explored.

These different insights were some of the points highlighted by Liz Sanders, who was the main opponent during the ceremonial ritual, when Bo Westerlund defended his PhD thesis on Friday November 6th 2009 at KTH in Stockholm. Bo Westerlund is trained as an industrial designer, has worked as a design researcher for many years, and is already assigned Professor at Kalmar University.

The thesis can be downloaded here: http://www.bowesterlund.se/thesis.html

 Have a nice day.  Smiles Mette

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