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Illuminating History by Lily Díaz, 25.IX.2000

Though they may share tools, and a preoccupation with aesthetics, there are differences between the activity of design and that one of art. These differences can be best observed in how designers use conceptual, non-physical, tools. In this category, among the instruments in the designer's toolbox, we may find:

1) Representation tools: The designer uses these to create communication devices such as demos, flowcharts, prototypes, schematic diagrams, sketches, and scenarios. Communication devices, such as demos and prototypes, are used to represent the actual working of a product. Flow charts and schematic diagrams can be used to represent the flow of events in a process. They may indicate branching, or key decision points, as well as probable outcome projections. As has been noted earlier, sketches and models, can be used as communication tokens to further decision-making among all parties concerned. They differ from the artist drawings in that their history is different and also, they are not meant to express anything about what they show.XXX(Expand.)

Scenarios are future-based, performance-oriented narratives that feature the product, or design concept, as main actor. By asking the question "What if...?", scenarios can provide the user with a means to experience different potential manifestations of the product. Some scenarios also allow the user to interactively alter its structure.9 0


2) Knowledge acquisition tools: The designer makes use of diverse techniques to acquire the knowledge necessary to be able to work and produce within the community that has been brought together for the purposes of creating a product. Among these are what is referred to as transverse knowledge or, conceptual knowledge that arises from the interaction of the designer with the matter to be designed. The designer secures this knowledge by asking motivationally9 1structured questions such as, "Who is this for?",

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"...the fact that in society a man finds not simply the external conditions to which he must accomodate his activity, but that these same social conditions carry in themselves motives and goals of his activity, his means and methods; in a word, society produces the activity of the individuals forming it." P., 51.