A Cross-Disciplinary Examination of Individual Differences in Approach to Design Practice

By Mairghread McLundie.

Published by The Design Collection

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

This paper draws on three very different fields of practice - 3D design, writing, and computer programming – to demonstrate an underlying commonality between disciplines as regards how practitioners work, and their relationships with the medium they work in, on or through. Based on an analytical review of selected literature from these disciplines, and the author's own interviews with 3D design practitioners, it proposes that differences exist between individual practitioners which are more significant than variation arising from each designer's personal style, unique experience, or working context; rather they represent wholly different approaches to design, elements of which relate to the nature and extent of a dialogue between practitioner and medium. This paper concludes that while elements of these differences in approach can broadly be mapped to a formal/concrete axis, the differences may result from a more complex set of relationships between an individual's orientation towards practice (goals/discovery), their preferred style of organising work (preplanned/emergent), mode of engagement (top-down/bottom-up), the way they relate to the medium (close/distant), the role of the medium in their practice (a means to an end/an end in itself), and their mode of thinking (formal & abstract/intuitive & concrete). This cross-disciplinary examination of differences in approach indicates important aspects of working and knowing that are not embedded in the material context of practice, which should be acknowledged by theory, and could be harnessed practically in the development of future digital environments for creative practice.

Keywords: Cross-Disciplinary, Individual Difference, Design Practice, Formal/Concrete Axis, Design Approach, Digital Environments for Creative Practice

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.11-20. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 526.812KB).

Dr. Mairghread McLundie

Research Development Group, Digital Design Studio, Glasgow School of Art, UK

Mairghread McLundie is a researcher at the Digital Design Studio, Glasgow School of Art. She graduated from Glasgow University in 1983 with a degree in Computing Science. Following ten years working in computer facilities management for a firm of consulting engineers, she enrolled at Glasgow School of Art, graduating with a degree in Design (Silversmithing and Jewellery) in 1997. An interest in the relative absence of computer systems in the applied arts formed the basis of study for a one year masters degree, titled "An Investigation into Interaction with Computer Systems for 3D Design and Modelling, in Terms of Interface and Process". Her recently completed Ph.D. research focused on the relationship between individual designers and the artefacts and media they work with in their design processes, and how differences in this relationship might inform the development of future digital environments for creative practice.


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