All Design is Redesign

Peter Jones Wu Wei

So now also says Bruno Latour, in a keynote lecture given at History of Design Society, Falmouth, September 2008 “A Cautious Prometheus? A Few Steps Toward a Philosophy of Design.” The fourth advantage I see in the word “design” (in addition to its modesty, its attention to detail and the semiotic skills it always carries with it), is that it is never a process that begins from scratch: to design is always to redesign. There is always something that exists first as a given, as an issue, as a problem. Design is a task that follows to make that something more lively, more commercial, more usable, more user’s friendly, more acceptable, more sustainable, and so on, depending on the various constraints to which the project has to answer. In other words, there is always something remedial in design. I would add, there is nothing perfect in such an approach toward design or redesign. We move together toward a shared image that appears to others as a “progression” of designs. We muddle through, we bricolage, we construct multiple variations until one …

Dialogue as Participatory Design

Peter Jones Dialogic Design, Transformation Design

(Insert standard excuses for blog slipping here). Torch Partner Robin Uchida hosted the second year of Juice Dialogues at Ontario College of Art and Design, October 25-27. Wit the theme of Making the Invisible Visible, I kicked off the Friday night session, followed by Gary Gray, founder of Carder Gray agency. I was delighted to accept an invitation to present, as well as participate in the open dialogues with faculty, students, and design community professionals like myself. This is the kind of exploratory educational venue all universities should hold regularly, and the type of informal program design schools in particular need. Provocative presentations with Q&A, followed by a circle of dialogue for everyone who stayed on, hosted by insightful, caring facilitators that easily generated the space for listening and understanding to emerge. Each night’s dialogue lasted well over an hour, and afterward, I physically felt energized, inspired, and buzzed, like I had been at a great party. My talk was on Dialogue as Participatory Design (see on Slideshare), which is my first attempt at integrating the concepts of structured dialogue …

On Seeing Design as Redesign

Peter Jones

Peers in design practice understand the name “Redesign Research,” and get it. At least I think they do. Clients get it as well. And a slogan since 2001 that “All Design is Redesign.” I have found few other designers willing to join me on this – perhaps people think its a marketing slogan, but it really describes a de facto design philosophy. Simply put, design is a set of skills and perspective on problem-solving the wicked problems of ill-formed contexts with structures and materials. The target of design work/thinking is a problem space involving (usually) human activity in a context of work or everyday life. These contexts are pre-existing and carry with them people’s pre-understanding about what’s relevant and useful. Therefore, most design seeks to improve the interactions and materials in these pre-existing contexts. We aim to redesign FROM and TO a space of needs, uses, desires, and affordances. If the context is poorly-framed, you end up with services that fail, marketing with no connection to reality, and products with no markets. Designing to a useful or playful context is …

Dialogue as unmediated design

Peter Jones Dialogic Design

Or at least, less-mediated design. A goal and an inherent value of participatory design is that of engaging users directly in a design processes, to minimize the translation of features by designers. The goal of direct participation is not to reduce the cycle time incurred between cycles of user-centered design, prototyping, and user assessment, although that happens. The goal is to maximize user ownership of the design for their own work practices, and to minimize the influence designers have in articulating the significant features in the application space. Participatory design has a values orientation that respects the intelligence and autonomy of participants in their own work practices. Dialogic design also aims to minimize designer mediation, even if through a facilitated process. By enabling participation of all stakeholders in a design dialogue – aspires to immediacy. The principle of requisite autonomy is honored in all SDD sessions, which requires the autonomy and authenticity of all individual stakeholders to be preserved. Nobody can alter a contribution made by a participants in structured dialogue. Dialogue happens with a committed group of people, during …