Stimulating Creative Solutions by Visualizing the Design Vision

DS 69: Proceedings of E&PDE 2011, the 13th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, London, UK, 08.-09.09.2011

Year: 2011
Editor: Kovacevic, Ahmed, Ion, William, McMahon, Chris, Buck, Lyndon and Hogarth, Peter
Author: Eggink, Wouter
Series: E&PDE
Section: Creativity in Design Education
Page(s): 97-102


Since Jean Baudrillard, it has become apparent that we live in a world that is dominated by visual images. At the same time Anna Valtonen has argued that the design profession is shifting its importance to higher levels of abstraction, from merely designing products via product management and branding towards design as an innovation driver. The added value of design is therefore more-and-more defined at strategy-level. In this context it is important to be able to communicate design strategy at a high abstraction level and at an early stage in the design process, visually. This paper describes an informal technique for visualizing design visions in an early stage of the design process. Practising this technique with three cohorts of industrial design engineering students in subsequent design courses showed that the technique enhanced the early stage communication of design goals and stimulated the implementation of creative design solutions.

Design Vision

Aim of the technique is to make a design goal visible in an early stage of the design process, this in order to be able to communicate and discuss the design goal cross-discipline. The visuals are aimed to communicate the design goal at a high level of abstraction. This is in alignment with known creative solution seeking methods like TRIZ and the Vision in Product Design approach. Because of this higher abstraction level the outcomes can be described as Design Visions, rather than concrete descriptions of a design goal.

Disruptive images

The term ‘disruptive images’, expresses the idea that the visuals represent something uncommon. By combining different images, mostly of recognizable objects that are displayed ‘out of context’, the resulting visual should contain elements of surprise, stimulate the viewer to question conventions and propose a new perspective on the subject at hand. An exemplary example that is also shown at the instruction of the technique is the “Prada value meal” by artist Tom Sachs. Here a McDonalds happy meal is mimicked with a print of Prada logos to articulate the cheapness of the original. The application of such images not only stimulates creativity, but also the discussion with the client to clarify the desired design strategy.


The disruptive images are created in a workshop setting. The designers are invited to look at their subject from different perspectives and search images that correspond to different sub-themes of the design problem. For instance on “what is wrong in the current situation”, “What will an ideal situation look like” and “How is this problem solved in other fields of interest”. Concluding the workshop, the designers have to present their design vision with a series of images, forming an argument. The disruptive images workshop was part of a larger course where, after the development of the design visions, the students had to develop solutions and end up with a plausible design. The visuals of the design vision helped the students to steer their design process in the desired direction and stimulated them to aim for a desired solution that lies behind the obvious.

Keywords: Design Vision, Visualization, Creativity, Design Education, Design Practice


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