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How Design Fiction Can Help Your Design Iteration Process

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © Geralt | Pixabay

FREEING YOUR DESIGN MIND

As an environmental designer, it is important to make smart design decisions during your creative process – at all stages. This is where the practice of design fiction can be injected into your process, to help you formulate not just one design solution that you iterate; but a variety of possible solutions that you can compare, test, or explore quickly at the beginning of your concept formulation process. Design fiction allows you as a designer to ask better questions about the design challenge faced, and to explore more “out of the box” thinking and methods to help you reach the best solution.

A key component to design fiction (or speculative design) is the important question that asks “What if?”. By freeing your mind to juxtapose or combine seemingly unrelated subjects, you are able to create and explore a variety of possible solutions, which gives you a better chance of finding the right one (or combination thereof). You see, design fiction calls for a mindset shift –that allows your design formulation process to unlock solutions that may not have been accessible before. And this is how innovations are born.

THREE QUESTIONS TO GET YOU STARTED

For instance, try asking the following three questions to help you think of alternate solutions that will go beyond your typical design process. Simply ask the following questions to yourself as you formulate your concept design during its earliest stages:

·  What if I found an example in nature that could help solve for this design challenge?

·  What if I switched my design tools as I formulate this next design solution iteration?

·  What if I solve for this design challenge with an unexpected solution. What would that be?

By asking yourself the right questions, you are able to come up with better answers. The three questions above are simply to get your mind thinking along these lines, but please do create your own “what if” questions that prompt your design  decision-making into new realms. Of course, as you create a series of design iterations for a given challenge, some solutions will be duds, while others will be gems that you discover. The key is to free your mind to focus on creative ways to go beyond your usual brainstorm of iterations – to find those extraordinary solutions that can take your architecture project to a whole new level of beauty, function, meaning (and innovation).

MICRO-LECTURE:

WHY DESIGN FICTION HELPS ITERATIVE DESIGN

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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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