With the continual advance and the popularity of technology in our world, culture has become something that is largely artificially manufactured. The result is that human experience is conjured up and true cultural exchanges diluted. This has had a detrimental impact on the design industry. An experiential web platform that is a repository of human experience, culture, artifacts and design methodology would serve as a design process tool for graphic designers and help in the creation of sound design development.
Before I get back to another attempt at formulating a brief thesis statement I want to discuss a recent show that I saw at the Dallas Museum of Art. It was a presentation of the early art of poster design. In the beginning, during the late 1800s, it was called the “affiche artistique” (artistic poster). This was the visual expression of poster deign that took place in Paris starting with Jule Chéret in the 1870s. The work was breathtaking. There are few shows that I have gone to where I walked around with my jaw dropped open.
This is an instance when the life around Paris inspired the artist to create this early form of graphic design. There is no better way to show how culture can inspire design. Now after learning more about the principles of synthesis provided by Jon Kolko, I can see how it is at play here. Artists/designers like Jules Chéret, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Pierre Bonnard took in the sights of the world that existed around them and then formulated posters that reflected their experiences. In several displays I was able to view preliminary sketches that were created before the final color lithograph or painting was made. The connection is undeniable.
During this period in Paris it was a glorious time of exploration and a case of life and culture informing design. There was such a simple connection that all viewers could identify. In our current world the origins of inspiration and the forms of visual expression are much more complex but I feel on many occassions the principles and methods behind the creation process is the same.
If you have an opportunity to see Posters of Paris: Toulousse-Lautrec and His Contemporaries — please do.
Kolko, Jon. “Abductive Thinking and Sensemaking: The Drivers of Design Synthesis.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology Design Issues 26.1: 15 – 28. Print.
Jon Kolko in “Abductive Thinking and Sensemaking: The Drivers of Design Synthesis” asserts that synthesis is at the core of the design process. Synthesis is the processing and the structuring of data in order to come to a cohesive and ordered result. Kolko identifies principles and methods that support his claim that designers do utilize synthesis to gain insights and build design concepts. He clearly presents that synthesis occurs and not the “magic” that clients frequently imply. The building blocks behind Kolko’s theory are abductive thinking and sensemaking.
It is key to understand the principles that Kolko introduces in his article. In reference to abduction, he states, “It is the hypothesis that makes the most sense given observed phenomenon or data and based on prior experience” (Kolko 20). Essentially it is the manner of reaching a conclusion based on earlier experiences and patterns. Kolko logically presents how experience can mold abductive thoughts and actions. What is highly significant is that Jon Kolko determines that experience outside of the realm of technology can help build the design ideation process.
Sensemaking is the effort to make correlations and connections. Kolko notes that there is “prioritization, judging and the forging of connections” (22). Abductive thinking and sensemaking are great contributors to the development and the refining of a design. Many organizations make use of these approaches. It is not uncommon to find even areas where designers post a grouping of images. Kolko discusses this practice as he describes a type of “incubation period.” He writes about how designers create real and tangible manifestations of their ideas in this period of synthesis. Some organizations have open spaces where ideas are posted in a public manner so that the active exchange of ideas can easily be achieved. Synthesis is the coming together and the realization of cognitive thoughts and personal reflection. Kolko is rightfully showing that it is time for designers to acknowledge synthesis in the advancement of their work.
Kolko’s aim is to show the essential role that synthesis plays in the design process in order to educate all about the way that designers architect their creations. He reveals, “When synthesis is “given its due,” the results appear to be magical. By applying these methods in practice, by commonly and continually describing the role of synthesis, and by considering synthesis in Design Research, both practitioners and researchers can better realize how life experience drives design decisions, and how inferential leaps can systematically drive innovation” (27). These are the fruitful forces behind those seemingly “mysterious” creations. Kolko would counter the assertion of Dan Myer who claims, “Some designs actually do seem to come out of thin air, like the Citibank logo that Paula Scher infamously drew on a napkin during an early meeting with the client” (Myer, “Examining The Design Process,” Smashing Magazine) Though I do sense that his comment is laced in sarcasm.
Jon Kolko is addressing the designers, the researchers and those members of the larger business community in this scholarly article. His argument is credible. He provides great insights on a process that has been misrepresented and trivialized for years. As he explained in the earlier portion of his article, it is time for all to understand that the design profession is one grounded on keen observation, research and cognitive correlations and associations. His rhetorical style is one of presenting a logical argument. This is effective in his need to face contrary public opinion that is based on impression and emotion.
1. How does abductive thinking assist in the building of a design process?
2. In utilizing the techniques of sensemaking what obstacles can distort the vision?
3. What is the significance of embracing synthesis as being a major factor in the generation of ideas?
Kolko, Jon. “The Phenomenon of Synthesis.” TEDxCreativeCoast. 18 June 2010. Web 25
Myer, Dan. “Examining The Design Process: Clichés and Idea Generation.” Smashing
Magazine. 21 Feb 2011. Web 25 Jan. 2013.
Oldach, Mark. “Creativity for Graphic Designers.” Cincinnati: North Light Books. 2000.
I decided to explore the work of the design strategist and educator, Jon Kolko. He had performed research on the design process and the way that designers utilize materials in their concept development. He is a strong advocate for the use of artifacts and tangible objects in various stages of design.
On the site of Jon Kolko there are a series of articles posted. The one that has the most pertinent material is “Trusting the Design Process.” However there is also “Transformative Learning in the Design Studio.” In this piece Kolko is identifying the need to understand some of the learning models that have been in existence in the realm of design education.
In “Trusting the Design Process” Kolko is sharing his knowledge and expertise with others and introducing teaching points and methods.
Some of the methods that he notes are the following:
• Conduct immersive, ethnographic research.
• Synthesize the research to arrive at the “big rocks” of innovation
• Sketch lots and lots of scenarios that introduce new products, systems, or services
• Visualize the “designed touchpoints” in real artifacts
• Test the results with real people
His objective is to bring real experience into the design process.
In order to branch out and expand my thoughts a little more I explored a second topic idea. I am still gravitating to my first idea but I thought that this second idea would be interesting. This is actually the polar opposite to my first concept.
The Tacit in Design: Subversive Messaging that Advances Social and Cultural Concerns
Graphic design has become a highly pictorial and visual field with the increased use of computer and mobile technologies. Designers advance themes that are inferred and only eluded to in design as opposed to being directly communicated with explicit intensity. This study will explore the phenomenon of tacit messaging conveyed in design as it subversively reflects the relationship between society and culture.
With the continual advance and the popularity of technology in our world, culture has become something that is largely artificially manufactured. The result is that human experience is conjured up and true cultural exchanges diluted. A web site; a repository of human experience, artifacts and design methods would serve as a design process tool for graphic designers and help in the delineation of sound creative development. The inclusion of relics/objects and real life circumstances will aid in enhancing design outcomes in and outside the world of technology.
(I had trouble posting this yesterday. I am trying it again).
In addition to the work that I was producing for Unit 2, I also did some mind map work. This is a visual that I initially created in pencil but then made it in Illustrator.
This did help me to think about the possible “web platform” idea.
Unit 2: On “Mapping” Text
The material that was provided on the “mapping” of text in Chapter 4 of Irene Clark’s book, Writing the Successful Thesis and Dissertation was informative. I found that the manner in which you can map is similar to some of the processes that I followed as a high school debater. Part of the beauty about the collection of information and the scrutiny and dissection of content was that we were able to find pertinent material to use in our arguments. It was a challenge to handle this method at first but after a period of time it became routine. Depending on the argument that we were handling, we had a series of questions that we would utilize as we approach each source.
Irene Clark is clearly introducing a way that we can decipher the material and find out how valuable it will be as we advance in securing our thesis focus. This will be so crucial. We each need to find out the value of each source. Following my experience as a debater, the practice seems to be quite familiar to me.
Clark notes how we should identify the “central moves” of the work and also get a sense of the overall topography of the work. Those statements so directly name the most essential tasks at hand. By getting an overall sense of the material and determining what direction it is taking you can see how the material will serve your thesis argument. There are many times when the material can bolster and support an argument. However, there are other instances when the material is simply “flat” and does not aid in the thesis process. I learned of these types of results, positive and negative, when I was a young debater. I had to artfully find the most pertinent and productive material.
In this process my plan is to first use this approach in the review of the material that pertains to the ideation process. There is an abundance of information that is available and I wish to examine this content as it relates to my developing theme that is linked to culture and human experience.
To begin the work that I would like to scrutinize is that of Jon Kolko and Grace Curtis. My interest in their contributions is strong because they each are heavily grounded in the realm of design with knowledge of technological constructs.
Another important suggestion that Clark provided in our “mapping steps” is that we “situate the text within our discipline.” That will certain determine whether or not the material will be of use in the further development of my thesis argument. I am eager to work with the text written by Kolko in his article, “Trusting the Design Process.” His notions on the importance of culture and artifacts are in alignment with the thoughts behind my own thesis.
Unit 2: Closer to a Thesis Topic
At this point my statement will not be a formal one. However, I do now have a direction. I would like to establish and present the value of exploring culture in the ideation process. The best manner to do so is to develop a website that features cultural material and artifacts. This website could be used as a tool in the ideation stages of the graphic design process.
Unit 2: More on Research Methods
This week has been full of exploration. In the following section I would like to give you an idea of the various areas and articles that I have investigated.
A workshop that was held by the Association for Computer Machinery, “Artifacts in Design: Representation, Ideation and Process” identified the value of the tactile in the ideation stages of design development. In an age of technology, the challenge of utilizing such material was examined.
Jon Kolko provided great information on the design process. As one of the developers of the workshop on the use of artifacts in design ideation I was eager to become familiar with his work. His article, “Trusting the Design Process” is highly informative. Two major points that he introduced in this article points toward the way that artifacts and human experience can be good ways to generate ideas in our current industry.
Gayle Curtis, provides some insight on design ideation in the video presentation, “Taming Complexity and Sparking Innovation Through Ideation and Design Thinking. She was another member of the group behind the ACM workshop on artifacts.
Article Database: Design and Digital Media
At first, I wanted to find historical material that presents the relationship that exists between graphic design and culture. One article that provided a good examination on the factors that went into design development during the early years of advertising and design was “Who’s Afraid of Visual Culture” by Johanna Drucker, 1999. This is an excellent resource that provides valuable information on the early methodology and the traditional practices in graphic design. The significance of social forces are brought to the forefront and related to the foundation of the industry.
An extensive analysis of the manners in which graphic designers develop communicative material is given in the article, “A Step Towards the Reinvention of Graphic Design” by Gui Bonsiepe. A multitude of graphic design process approaches are documented and studied.
In my textbook research I looked into books that handled methods of ideation. One that described the various ways that ideas could be generated was Creativity for Graphic Designers by Mark Oldach. A solid background on the ways that the ideation processes can aid in the development of design.