A Framework for Recording the Design Process

By Jean Trottier.

Published by The Design Collection

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

The ability to reflect on one’s process is a cornerstone of contemporary design pedagogy. Yet students are often at a loss to explain how they navigate the various methods and strategies leading them to particular propositions. This paper reviews a methodological framework developed to overcome this limitation.
The framework, elaborated through five years of implementation in design studios, allows the identification of personal methodological patterns as well as comparison with peers. In addition, it provides insights on related pedagogical concerns such as the impact of technology on design thinking.
The framework is built in part on Bryan Lawson’s categorization of design activities under the headings of formulation, moving (ideation), representation, selection, and reflection (Lawson 2006). Using a digital template, students record the sequence of activities undertaken over the duration of a project, the relative amount of time dedicated to each one, and the tools used for conducting them. This is supplemented with illustrations of representative outcomes. These illustrations are then resized to reflect the relative impact of specific “design moments” on the ultimate project outcome.
Results from this experimentation support the view that the design process is iterative and largely specific to each individual. They also indicate that students tend to reflect on the strategic value of technological alternatives for various design activities and generally choose digital media for ideation and representation but non-digital media for formulation. Finally, it appears that much of the evaluation activities are conducted simultaneously to representation ones, typically using graphic design-oriented software. This suggests that many students end up testing their spatial propositions using two-dimensional representational tools, effectively maintaining a disconnect between the symbolic constructs employed in design thinking and the ecological, socio-cultural, and material contexts within which they operate.

Keywords: Design Pedagogy, Design Methods, Technology, Problem Solving

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.267-278. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.383MB).

Jean Trottier

Assistant Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Landscape architect and urban planner by training, Jean Trottier is currently Assistant Professor at the Department of Landscape Architecture of the University of Manitoba. After practicing urban design and resort planning for a decade he began a full-time academic career in 2001. He has been an invited professor at the Instituto Nacional de Administración Pública (Managua, Nicaragua), the University of British Columbia, the State University of Utah, and at the Urban Design program of the University of Calgary. He teaches in the areas of design studios, site planning, design history, and urban design. He regularly participates in multi-disciplinary design competition and was a finalist (with the firm Cohlmeyer Architects) in the 2003 international competition for Montreal`s Concert Hall. His research focuses on design pedagogy.


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