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Title: A framework to communicate radically innovative material properties to designers
Authors: Burchill, James
Advisors: Pei, E
Bonser, R
Keywords: Radical Innovation;Communication method;Design Communication
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: This research investigates how radical innovations in material science can be better communicated to designers. In particular it focuses on how language can be used to ensure designers create feasible design concepts when first introduced to a material. The goal being to enable material communicators to reliably share their innovations and empower designers to use them. It was observed that radical innovations despite being significantly different from what had come before had no special support or guidance on how to best be communicated. This is despite radical innovations being seen as distinct in by managerial, design, and communication academics. By reviewing the existing communication tools and theory on the subject it was found that radical innovation likely would prove a significant challenge to designers. This was due to their reliance on prior knowledge. In the first 10 workshops that reached 127 designers, they were challenged to create concepts using radically innovative materials. The concepts could be for any application though only had to use the materials as part of the design. This testing found that designers struggled to use the existing tools to reliably create new ideas. Of those ideas generated by the designers (n=51) only 49% were feasible. Improving this outcome became the core focus of the research. To produce a framework that would guide designers a series of tests were completed. Before the initial workshops 40 interviews with designers were conducted that challenged them to communicate radically innovative materials provided the data to be assessed in a thematic review. These tests provided the insight to better understand the language designers use to communicate. Once the initial workshop was completed, focus groups and surveys probed how designers preferred to use the identified language tools. In the focus groups participants were challenged to explore what methods of communication they preferred and why they preferred these approaches. While the survey, which reached 192 designers, focused on asking what method of communication they preferred for specific types of radical innovation identified in the prior research. A final workshop series, identical to the first workshop series, apart from the inclusion of the communication generated by the framework was conducted. Speaking to 122 designers over 12 workshops found that of the ideas created by the designers (n=72) 84% were feasible. This showed a marked improvement, validating the usefulness of the tool. The value of the framework was further validated by reviewing it through interview with 6 experts, including 3 designers and 3 material communicators who saw it as a valuable tool that would help both groups.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:Design
Brunel Design School Theses

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