Thursday, October 9, 2008

Modeling and Mapping: Tools for Design Exploration

Design Concepts & Concerns: Modeling and Mapping - Tools for Design Exploration and mapping Design Opportunities
Prof M P Ranjan

Image: The Karnataka group used a choreographed skit to tell their story of design opportunity explorations and shared their thumbnail explorations as well as the chosen scenario, both displayed as placards on their body. The front had the thumbs arranged, as a letter form while on their back was the scenario, which would be explained by their team adjacent member. This group missed categorizing the explored design opportunities using higher categories in their focus on the ideas created by the individual.

Design Opportunities can be felt but not seen since they are a product of the imagination that is triggered by a particular perception or insight and these are nurtured by the designers conviction till it can be manifested in the world through the process of visualization, construction and operation. I am therefore not surprised any more when policy makers and the public alike fail to see value in a particular design offering till it is almost fully realized and placed on the market as a compelling offering and at an attractive price with an appropriate set of features. Design offerings take on a particular form and these can be easily differentiated through both deep and - or superficial transformations and compositions which is a strategy that companies use to make a range of offerings to meet a variety of price points and an equally wide range of feature sets to make for an active market where none exists.

Image: The Tamilnadu group used a metaphor of a number of kites in the sky to map out broad areas of design opportunities in the fields of agriculture, industry, and fisheries and at the infrastructure and systems level of action. The thumbnail maps of the individual design opportunities were categorized and arranged along the string that held the kite in the sky and the developed scenarios came out of their group debates and identification of priorities. However most groups did not know much about agriculture and this was visible in the fewer design opportunities being identified for these sectors of collective ignorance, suggesting scope for additional research before these explorations are done once again.

The format for exploration was created earlier this year when the DCC course was offered to the Foundation class in the previous semester and over the past few months we have given this format to each batch of DCC students at Gandhinagar, Paldi and at Bangalore and the results have been very encouraging indeed. Group and individual explorations can be bridged by making the design exploration journey a shared experience by giving the peer group a place in the process of design opportunity mapping and this reinforces the process of exploration through the strengthening of the expression through a process of peer discourse and sharing that would otherwise have not been encouraged in a design class that may be project driven and one that involves individual exploration. Since the group has a shared agenda to realize the best design opportunities with the focus of a chosen theme along with a given bias, in this case the theme is Food and the bias for each group is the chosen State – Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh – the process of articulation and choice making is both individual as well as group driven.

Image: The Andhra Pradesh group used the metaphor of the branching tree with its elaborate sets of deep and capillary roots, each part with a particular name, characteristic and attribute that mapped the real world attributes that the students found in their journey into the field during the previous assignment, The group was particularly successful in their exploration and as a group that were able to show a wide range of application areas and fairly developed scenarios for the particular design opportunities that came out of the group selection processes that they had adopted for their task.

Numerous thumbnail images are created on the format provided and each image is supported by a brief write up that describes the salient features of the design proposal or as we call it the design opportunity. These are discussed and debated within the group as they emerge from the hands and minds of the individual creator of the images and these then may go through a further transformation with the incorporation of the feedback that is so critical for the design journey to get a bearing that is akin to the potential responses in the market place. However the conviction levels of the designer would determine whether or not the suggested changes are carried out in full or in part, if at all. The insights that led the designer to make this particular offering may not be seen or be visible to his colleagues which sets up a platform for discourse and debate and these processes at an important part of the conviction building process in design when it comes to making a decision, in favour or against a particular offering or a part thereof, of that particular offering.

Image: Scenario visualization being shared by some of the students from each group as part of their final presentation of the DCC course at NID Bangalore campus.

Students then select one out of many potential directions that are revealed in their design opportunity mapping and this choice is done in consultation with the team members. Each student then sets out to develop his or her chosen design opportunity and in the process sets out to build a visualization in the form of a scenario that would help articulate the particular offering, its impediments and potentials, the business models that would need to be considered to make it a success in the face of known and anticipated competition as well as a host of other factors that would deal with material, function, aesthetics, economics and other meta level criteria such as current and future legislation and the ethics of the offering in the context of society, culture and the ecology in which it is to be manifested eventually. This complex offering applies to all kinds of design situations and the design student is taken through these in the classroom long before they came face to face with these complexities in the field in which they are required to act.

Prof M P Ranjan

No comments:

Post a Comment

I reserve the right to edit comments. Please keep it simple and to the subject.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.