The value of design

Our recent workshop on the Value of Design, organized by Mariza Dima took place on Monday 30 July 2012, two days after the Olympic Games Opening. The Guardian reported the Olympic event as “Boyle’s banquet: irreverent, idiosyncratic and bonkers …” I like the idea of a meticulously designed and planned event that cost £27 million being described as if it were a school play.

I also think design needs this “bonkers” element, especially in the early stages, and all the better if, when carried through to completion, it turns out that was what people wanted all along. Clients, users and consumers are better critics than originators. They don’t necessarily know what they want until you present them with something. Nor do designers.

This is part of the ethos of research by design: co-design, user-centred design, situated design. It doesn’t begin with an abstract identification of needs, a specification, that is then signed off, ready for the design work to begin. We start with the design.

At the workshop we discussed and evaluated a prototype for tweeting messages synchronised with the progress of a YouTube clip, or any other media stream. We developed this along with some highly skilled and agile programmers at a previous workshop. Meet James Baster and Amy Guy, inventive and agile coder-designers.

Two programmers standing in front of a data projector image that says "Show Shift."

Further reflection on research by design.


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