HomeAboutARL Strategic Thinking & DesignWork Stream 3: Design StudiosDefining the Design Studio Process

Defining the Design Studio Process

Concept One: Brainstorming +

Brainstorming is a collective creative process of speculation. Its goal is to use diverse talent, expertise and points of view to generate many ideas around a problem or project. One of the key rules of brainstorming is withholding all criticism, reserving it for a later stage of the process. Brainstorming is meant to be collaborative.

In brainstorming +, we will break the group into smaller group sessions around specific questions and then employ design critique methodology to assess the effort in a manner that integrates the work through conversation. In the end all ideas are collected, collated and then curated (collected, sorted for similarities, and then edited for intention).

Concept Two: Critique

Critique, as practiced in the design studio, is different from criticism or evaluation in that it is a working on, together, not a disinterested evaluation of one person by another, or a simple “reporting out.” It goes beyond assessment of into the realm of how to think about. Therefore, it moves the process forward through speculation as well as analysis.

Concept Three: Charrettes

Many people have heard the term design charrette around community based planning projects. A design charrette is an intense period of design or planning. The French word “charrette” actually refers to a small cart that the professors at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris (19th century) would pass through the studio space to collect drawings. When the cart came around, your time was up. Charrettes involve individuals or small groups and they are periods of intense and focused effort around a specific design problem. Work is then reviewed through a pin-up critique—similar to the ways in which architectural plans are evaluated—in which the entire group participates.

Concept Four: Design

Design is different from brainstorming in that it is meant to not only generate ideas but also to assess those ideas relative to multiple, sometimes competing, concerns within the context of the problem: including the context of the universities in which ARL libraries sit, the policies and protocols of the greater research community, and the different constituencies involved. Design is also different from instrumental problem solving: in order to deal with the complexity of a design problem, it nurtures the generation and then integration of divergent provisional ideas and trajectories of inquiry around diverse concerns, as opposed to prioritizing and optimizing for one part of the problem.

Concept Five: Design as an Emergent and Iterative Process

The entire design process works by incorporating new information as it is introduced along the way, through: (a) analysis of what has been done in the past; (b) asking what the relationship of past work is to the emerging vision and goals; (c) new questions that are raised by provisional what-if scenarios; and (d) new stakeholders who are pulled into the process.

 
 
 

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