December 02, 2012

This blog has moved to

From December 2012 I will be writing about my PhD at

August 21, 2012

Interview topic 1: manufacturing, art, design

The production of objects and events takes three forms (which may be more or less mixed up in reality): manufacturing, art, and design.

Manufacturing: sometimes we produce new instances of a familiar pattern or template - manufacturing, either on a craft-workshop basis or on an industrial scale, subject to incremental optimisation but essentially standardised.

Art: other times we produce something that is unique and that "breaks the mould" - artistic creativity being distinguished by some irreducible difference, by a challenge to conventional sense, non-standard and unique to the artwork.

Design: finally, we might produce a new pattern, breaking the mould and creating a new mould - design seeks the best of both worlds, offering something distinctive and new, but also feasible, scalable, durable, usable, accessible, valuable. Design is a compromise between the prevailing conditions and a new future, arrived at by observation, inspiration, experimentation and negotiation (between affordances, constraints, time, money, attention etc).

How do you relate to these three activities?

June 08, 2012

Interview topic 4: negotiating between strategy (design ideals) and reality

The outcomes of projects are often compromises between strategic intentions (or design ideals) and practical realities. For example, an institution might aim to reduce the number of different IT systems in use. That is the strategic aim. In reality people might have real or imagined reasons to use different systems. If we undertake a project that needs to involve these people, we might need to find a compromise between the strategic aim and the practical reality.

Can you think of cases where your projects have encountered a conflict between strategic aims and practical reality? What was the result? What were the negative and positive effects? How does this work out over time? How does the strategy, its detail or its significance, get altered? What methods do you use to negotiate between strategy and practice?