Not all Sheep are White: Lessons about designing from close analysis of design collaboration

Tuesday 20/03/2012 13:00 - 14:00
Location: Brunel University, Howell Building, Room H313
Speaker: Prof. Janet McDonnell, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London,UK

The seminar will present a series of examples of recent studies of design activity that pay close attention to the interactions taking place between participants. It will raise questions about what such studies tell us about designing. Accounts of the phenomena noticed invite us (whether we are design researchers, designers, or design educators) to consider what are the consequences of these more nuanced understandings of how designs come into being through interaction.

Janet McDonnell is Head of Research at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, University of the Arts, London and is Professor of Design Studies. Originally educated and trained as an electrical engineer (Imperial College London), she became a chartered engineer in 1982 before holding a series of acadmic posts in Departments of Computer Science (Kingston, Brunel, UCL). She has a masters degree in Computer Science from UCL and a PhD (Knowledge Based Systems for Engineering Design) from Brunel University. She is editor-in-chief of the journal CoDesign and a member of the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council peer review college. She has been a Fellow of the RSA since 1988.

Her research interests are in studying design and other kinds of professional work as it takes place in natural settings where many competing pressures are at play; means of making processes and practices ‘visible’ e.g. the methods in use, the decision-making behaviour, how ideas get introduced and established through talk, the informational bases (sources, uses and quality) that individuals and groups rely on, and the influences of assumptions and norms. She is interested in creative collaboration practices particularly in design. The overarching themes uniting different projects are an interest in supporting reflective practice, increasing the potential for individuals and groups to learn from experience, enabling participative engagement in design, understanding effective collaboration, and in most recent work, the long term thematic motivations for creative collaborative practice. Her recent publications include an edited collection of studies of naturally occurring design meetings (About:Designing J.McDonnell and P.Lloyd (eds), Taylor and Francis 2009) and two papers in Design Studies on collaboration practices (Impositions of order: A comparison between design and fine art practices Design Studies 32 (2011) pp. 557-572; Accommodating Disagreement: A Study of Effective Design Collaboration Design Studies 33 (2012) pp.44-63)