Using Visual Action Methods in the Design Process

By Susan Sherringham and Sue Serle.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Human centred and co-design approaches to designing often involve working in collaborative, multi-disciplinary contexts. In such situations promoting collegial and open environments and methods of engagement to bring forward and capture the ideas, opinions, perspectives, of the participants for discussion are paramount. Visual action methods provide appropriate ways of promoting ‘safe’ environments, eliciting information, promoting discussion and facilitating consensus in group situations.

These methods provide ways for gaining deeper understandings of the research situation that is appropriate to practice, research and education.
There are various methods or tools used within visual action research alongside ways of capturing the data that can take the form of both qualitative and quantitative data.

The workshop proposal is for a 60 minute workshop introducing participants to key principles of visual action methods through the enactment of the method via a hypothetical research scenario. The workshop will enact and demonstrate how visual action methods develop rich pictures of a complex situation. The picture allows for disparate interdisciplinary groups to develop shared understandings. The picture holds the context and highlights the issues for discussion and development.

This method of research and design engagement is being developed and tested for the purpose of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council Priority Project – A protocol for developing curriculum led human-centred next generation learning environments in higher education.

Keywords: Socio-Political Constructions, Social Spatial Constructions, Action Research, Design Thinking, Participatory Research

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.179-192. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.315MB).

Susan Sherringham

Course Director of Interior Design, Faculty of Design Architecture and Building, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Susan Sherringham (BA ( Hons)), is Senior Lecturer and Course Director of Interior Design in the Faculty of Design Architecture and Building at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). She is Chair of the Teaching and Learning Spaces Improvement Working Party at UTS. Susan has over 20 years of industry experience as a designer, as a Director of a multidisciplinary design practice and in her own multidisciplinary design practice, primarily designing for the commercial sector including research and development projects. Her current post graduate research focuses on adaptive expertise, systems thinking, organisational learning and life-long learning in the design industry; an aspect of which is conceptualising the workplace as a learning environment. Susan is Project Leader on an Australian Learning and teaching Council Priority Project - A protocol for developing curriculum-led human-centred learning environments in higher education. Susan is also a Director and Treasurer of the Interior Design/Interior Architecture Educators Association.

Sue Serle

Lecturer, Faculty of the Built Environment, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sue Serle, Bachelor of Arts (Interior Design) RMIT, Masters Design & Planning University of Melbourne, is a lecturer in interior architecture in the Faculty of the Built Environment at The University of New South Wales. Susan is an Accredited Member of the Design Institute of Australia and has over 20 years of industry experience as a designer. Her research interests focus on visual languages, interdisciplinary and workplace design in office, health, and education particularly new learning environments. Teaching is a major part of her work and contributing to an environmentally sustainable future is a key goal.


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