Re-thinking design representations in design education: an interview study with professional designers

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Eriksson, Siw; Wallgren, Pontus; Karlsson, MariAnne
Series: ICED
Institution: Chalmers University of Technology
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 3095-3104
DOI number:


Design representations are important tools for designers in the design process. To help designers choose the appropriate representation, taxonomies have been proposed based on type, degree of fidelity, and when to use them. However, Design representations may also play an important role in designers' communication with users and enabling users as co-designers. Therefore, new taxonomies, focusing on design representations’ potential mediating roles in collaborative design processes with users, have been developed. The purpose of this interview study, with twelve designers within Swedish industry, was thus to investigate how designers use design representations in communication with users in the design process. The study indicates that the designers mainly interacted with users in order for them to answer specific design questions or to evaluate design solutions. If design representations’ value for facilitating communication and collaboration with users should be emphasized, we need to shift from teaching mainly taxonomies related to fidelity levels or when to use them in the design process, and rather educate future designers about design representations inherent potential to mediate and enhance the dialogue with users.

Keywords: Design representation, Collaborative design, Design education, User centred design, Representation TaxonomiesTax

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