The focus group was performed with two students of Nottingham Trent University, both from different backgrounds: a graphic designer undertaking the MA course (D1) and a multimedia undergraduate student (D2). The session was recorded and the transcript was analysed under 4 major groups: Creative process, Idea generation, Research (reading and writing) and Reflection (on and in action).
The aim with this focus group, as explained in previous posts, is to get a better insight of how creative practitioners think to help me develop a tool more appropriate and useful for them. My approach is Activity-Centred so rather them use the answers to develop the tool, I will use the answers to reflect and optimise the activity.
Overall, both interviewees not surprisingly showed difficulty in explaining their process, showing that most designers don’t realise the process as it is often intuitive, reinforcing Dorst (2008) statement that designers believe they do not use methods in their process. Another interesting aspect which relates to the previous post is that, at first, designers didn’t acknowledge the research bit in the process, illustrated by this statement:
D1: “But you don’t read really, you see visually how it works”.
As the conversation went on they identified certain research moments, however always relating it to visual aspects or to idea generation, concentrating always on the design process.
D2: “I think there is a lot of reading involved, but more like visual examples”.
D2: “I suppose there’s always a worry of missing out on a great idea or great concept, so I suppose to give yourself the opportunity to read a little bit, not necessarily essays and everything, but just kind of pint point a little bit of each thing and then you can kind of come up with a greater idea, possibly.”
D1: “Is actually because we see so many designs, we actually learn from other people’s mistakes.”
These three statements are of key importance as they not only relate again to the previous post, as research is always considered to be related to the design process, rather than design research, but also it illustrates the idea that creative practitioners are visual learners.
Regarding writing, both didn’t recognise much writing in the process, however when asked about the reflective journal (a blog showing their reflection on practice) both identified benefits this kind of reflective writing could bring in the design process.
D1: “It’s useful because when you are in a company you are used to working fast and you don’t really have time to look at all the options, but when you have a reflective journal and you have to write down, create mind maps and etc, you actually might see something that if you had less time you wouldn’t be able to see, and you might generate another idea and another idea.”
D2: “So I suppose it does help you to look at more options and then pick the better one, and by doing that, slowly hopefully, it will become your kind of first nature to do it, so you will as you get more used to doing it you will be choosing the best ideas and it will take you a shorter amount of time so you will be generating ideas at a much quicker pace and more efficiently.”
One of the statements which I found very interesting was about reflection:
D2: “A video is like someone else, so if I can explain myself to a camera, then I’m going to explain myself to you in a better way, so you can tailor your approach to sharing ideas in a different way.”
which is similar to Richard Saul Wurman statement in the post The Age of Data. It’s interesting how people perceive the “conversation”, in whatever medium, as a way of understanding; as you explain something, you organize the thought in a reasonable way and one’s understanding becomes concrete.
In a nutshell, some things can be conclude from this meeting. First, there is a clear focus on practice and research is always associated to the design process. Secondly, creative practitioners tend to have “visual minds”. This statement has two sides. I believe they notice visuals a lot easier than the reasoning they certainly make from it, their visual orientation leads them to not acknowledge much contribution of the research to idea generation and understanding. The other side is that they are visual learners, which means they make sense of visuals or things with a visual appealing. Lastly, time is a key factor for writing, but it was acknowledges some benefits for generation of more and better ideas and create an understanding.
As I mentioned before, these conclusion will lead me to a better development of a research tool. Although the responses weren’t very enthusiastic about research, there was still an understanding of its importance and this tool could possibly stimulate this practice. Visuals will play a great role in this process and create an ease for the research activity.