Idea Exchange and Shared Understanding: Tools Stimulating Thought and Conveying Ideas

By Bengt Köping Olsson and Ulrika Florin.

Published by The Design Collection

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

The topic of this paper is the use of sketching when exchanging shape visions. Attaining a shared understanding in a collaborative design project is examined. The interaction acts of an industrial design team at a renowned design firm in Stockholm are analyzed, as well as where the idea development session is situated. The interaction in itself could function as the prevalent means of describing and mediating creative idea development in groups. The basic intent of bringing together individuals who hold divergent notions is the creative tension this meeting may bring forth. There seems to be an inevitable gap between designers’ ways of forming and expressing opinions concerning aesthetic ideas and their use of verbal language. The concepts ’verbal overshadowing’ and ‘figurative arguing’ are considered, as well as ‘the power of the board’. These phenomena influence the session's creative potential. The interpretation of the different types of sketches used by the team is focused on, as a means of understanding the significance of each type and the impact on idea development. Based on this study, several recommendations for establishing effective idea exchange and supporting evolving shared understanding, i.e. a group idea, are presented.

Keywords: Sketching, Descriptive Language, Interpretation, and Group Dynamics

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.487-502. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 4.342MB).

Dr. Bengt Köping Olsson

Senior Lecturer, School of Innovation, Design and Engineering, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden

Bengt Köping Olsson has the background of an engineer and a degree in psychology. He has a Master of Fine Arts in piano and has been teaching piano and also worked as a musician on a freelance basis for several years. In 2008 he earned a PhD degree in Innovation and design and is now working as a lecturer. In his research project Bengt Köping Olsson is trying to come to grips with creative activity in an intense group effort, such as when musicians improvise or when a group of industrial designers brainstorm to solve a client's problem. One might say that what he is studying is the handover of the creative spark from one person to the next, inspiration at best accelerating.

Dr. Ulrika Florin

PhD Student, Lecturer, Innovation, Design and Engineering, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden

Ulrika Florins research is focusing both artistic problems and on themes linked to society. Her project leading experience and involvement in great projects such as “The Art Break Project” has given her opportunity to study processes, among artists and academics together. “The Art Break Project” (Projekt Konstpaus) is a development project partially financed by the European Union (EU). The project team consisted of several artists, and academics such as archaeologists, cultural geographers, biologists and geologists. The main objective of the project team is to provide the basis for the construction of a culturally inspired walking and bicycle path designed with artistic character influenced primarily by the municipality’s extensive nature/cultural heritage. Ulrika Florin held her MFA, Master in fine art- in three-dimensional design, 1992 at Konstfack, University College of art craft and design in Stockholm. Since then Florin is a practicing artist with the public space as her specialty. Within 2006, Florin started her PhD Candidate position at Mälardalen University in Eskilstuna. Florin is focusing design processes and interpretation as well as visual perception. Her research project is a part of the research group “Design inspire innovation” a division of the multidisciplinary milieu IPR (Innovation and Product Realization) at Mälardalen University, that works together from a broad spectra view with questions concerning visual materials. The interaction act that take place in creating, as well as reading, sketches is now Florins main focus in her research. In 2010 she presented her Florin Licentiate Theses, Från idé till gestaltningsförslag: fallstudie från Projekt Konstpaus , Mälardalen University Press 126. Currently Florin is working as Lecturer at Mälardalen University conducting her PhD Studies and produce artistic works.

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