My Future Design Practice
This post is a submission for A3 Design Contexts; it focuses on my future design practice.
During the MDF program, my work and study life have continued to intersect and inform this assignment. The opportunity to reflect and articulate the proposition and value of my future Service Design practice has indeed been ‘a lovely moment’ (as Leah Heiss phrased it in one our final sessions with her). I’ve found it inspiring to connect my past and present, to reflect on my knowledge, career and the skills accumulated to date. I’ve consulted friends (old and new) and teachers for their thoughts, and connected these elements to inform the response to my future practice.
I’ve created two artifacts to support insight — the first a journey map of key career stages leading to the current state. And the second, a blueprint depicting the ‘could be’, or ‘to be’ future states.
I’d frame the future as a ‘Practice Transition’ or an ongoing inquiry into my own development. Initially I propose to develop a creative Service Design practice (linking my early education and artistic interests), and growing it towards Strategic Design. I plan to build my knowledge and expertise as a Service Designer and emerge as a future master of both.
I’ve visualised the journey towards my future practice as a blueprint across three timeframes — the short, medium and longer-term.
I propose to a move from the short Service Design (Design 2.0), into a future Strategic Design practice (Design 3.0 & 4.0), by developing a creative proposition that can extended with increasing value, whilst differentiating my expertise.
By connecting my older ‘Art’ theory & practical knowledge with my new ‘Design’ knowledge, I propose to develop a sensory specialism that develops over time. In the journey map of my current state — the link between the present and the past can be seen with the blue line running from 2016 back to 1997.
With each stage of the blueprint I’ve designed the development of knowledge to reach a mastery or ‘expert’ level in the outer timeframe. I’m keen to develop an academic practice, relevant to contemporary thinkers & discourse that distinguishes me from others. My practice foundation includes design thinking methods, HCD principles, and long-term inspiring relationships with colleagues I admire.
Practically speaking I realise that with any plan change is likely, and with this in mind, the outer timeframes of the blueprint are less detailed. I’m confident MDF has equipped me with a set of critical design tools to manage change over time. The development of excellent research capabilities (documenting, recording and archiving my transition), combined with a reflective & observant practice, can support any future pivot or manoeuvre necessary. Designing a creatively based archiving system that is visually engaging such as Leah Heiss’ is an opportunity for development in the short-term.
Due to my Bower bird like nature of collecting many projects or objects, I recognise that I might be better suited to positioning myself as an independent creative practitioner nestled firmly within a group of creative experts — one that is potentially quite wide to reflect a range of sensory disciplines. The different piles of coloured objects in the image below (and hero at top of post), can be interpreted as my preferred style of collecting a variety of design problems to solve, versus just focusing on the one.
This in turn highlights a focus on relationship development and alignment to facilitiate project opportunities and collaboration — key not only to the practice, but to achieve my planned practice transition.
The decision to focus on sensory design came during review of key career stages and conversations, supported further by the creation of a current state journey map. This artifact helped deepen an understanding of the suggestion to find and link an unique element in my past experience that can become a style that sets myself apart from others. For many years I have applied my knowledge of visual aesthetics and communication to the production of commercial experiences across a range of channels, predominantly digital within retail businesses.
It’s now time to bring the elements of my worlds together to move forwards. To develop a creatively focused approach with a set of tools to support a deeper understanding of human senses within the research & design process. To help practitioners understand more about the invisible hidden elements of sense, and how they combine and influence experiences and services — be that a customers, businesses, organisations or communies. A simple example might be the extension of a persona or empathy map.
The blueprint contains a series of front and back of house elements with a line of interaction between them (visible and invisible touchpoints), and opportunities at the bottom. Each of the rows in the artifact builds on each other across time.
The ‘Front of House’ elements listed down the left represent what is visible to the customer, they include; practice USP, practice capabilities, methods & toolkits and industries targeted. A move into different industries that are more aligned to my values occurs over time, as does that movement as an independent practitioner to a direct business owner, including a developed specialism and mastery of sensory design. And as mentioned before, I hope to deepen this knowledge and expertise, working across a range of industries, with specialists, on more complex projects over time.
The ‘Back of House’ section conrains behind the scene elements of my practice including: its changing structure, the network of people I work with, my practice principles and purpose. Between the Front and Back sits a ‘Line of Interaction’, these elements are relevant to my crafts’ development and customers’ experience — supporting focus for my research project (rather than traditional customer touchpoints which are generally documented here). Back of House represent elements that exist, versus those for development which appear staged over time frames as ‘Opportunities’.
Before starting the Research Methods subject, I plan to investigate senses, experts who work within them, a range of artists work inspired by them, possibly also art therapists. To gain a better understanding of the unknown / dark matter surrounding my proposed focus on them for design.
I’m also keen to conduct a variety of experiments and establish situations to test approaches or tools developed within the context of my research project; and document the outcome with publications and presentations. So the next few months will also include consideration of not only what and where to focus research, but how to consider experimenting or testing.
Old world, new world - new opportunities
‘Design’ has been deconstructed, and it’s splintering into new realms & disciplines before our eyes. Most likely in response to the many uncertainties that continue to arise as old and new worlds move further apart.
The creative opportunity reminds me of one faced by western painters in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, who were traversing their own clash of changing orders. Theirs was a move from an agrarian world towards industrialisation, with technologies such as photography freeing them from the artistic ritual of realism, to become craft based critical thinkers.
“For the first time in world history, mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual. To an even greater degree the work of art reproduced becomes the work of art designed for reproducibility. From a photographic negative, for example, once can make any number of prints; to ask for the ‘authentic’ print makes no sense. But the instant the criterion of authenticity ceases to be applicable to artistic production; the total function of art is reversed. Instead of being based on ritual, it begins to be based on another practice — politics.’
Walter Benjamin (18912–1940)
‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’
During this time of massive system change, art exploded beyond its landscape and history traditions to become a vehicle of inquiry and challenge — the product an artifact of experimentation, where visual outputs and political manifestos were delivered side by side.
I see service design sometimes as a translation profession between two worlds of old and new. Where an explosion of our ideas surrounding Design, Design Thinking and its discourse have propelled the application of Design to new realms of problem solving than traditional design were previously allowed. The appropriation of Design by prominent global businesses is seen as necessary to improve their chance of surviving our changing world, to remain relevant to consumers and their needs and wants, and to support faster innovation in a time of great change.
Often Design is being applied to reshape the intangible, human relationships & experiences and the dark matter that surrounds them. And I hope that by introducing a bit more focus on the common denominator of humanity — our senses, we can design better insights and solutions for a better world.
I hope a toolkit designed for sense can increase our empathy for each other, improve an understanding of needs, emotions and feelings — be they for government, commercial or private services.
To know more about which elements of sense within a service is essential, where and how it fits would also be useful. How to consider the importance of sense next to technology, to understand its level of necessity to influence value exchanges across culture would also be exciting, particularly as our communities continue to diversify. Think sense design for culture across health, education and community sectors — it could be very powerful.
So on reflection, what initially started as curiosity to know more about a well known swim lane diagram (experience map), to communicate a digital strategy in a commercial setting — has become a proposal for a new direction, built on prior experiences and underpinned by a creative proposition.
This study and type of work is transpiring to become a transition of me as well of my practice - and taking me back before I go forwards. I see it as a pretty great investment in my future happiness, and the chance to merge the old and new into a creative future.
Bower Bird Image — http://goryfiles.blogspot.com.au/2014_04_01_archive.html
Leah Heiss — RMIT MDF Tutorial, 20th September 2016
Discussion — Marius Foley — Program Manager RMIT MDF, September 2016
Humantific.com — The Other Design Thinking— https://issuu.com/humantific/docs/theotherdesignthinking
Bower Bird Nest Image — http://i.imgur.com/4WkRRkh.jpg
Walter Benjamin (18912–1940) — ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’
Rail Europe Experience Map — http://adaptivepath.org/uploads/documents/RailEurope_AdaptivePath_CXMap_FINAL.pdf