What is the role of a design brief? What are the key tensions inherent in a design brief that seeks responses that are distinctly different from the status quo?
In trying to meet the two main challenges of a design brief:
- Be SPECIFIC enough to describe what is required based on the knowledge that the education setting has on its resources, needs and values
- Be AMBIGUOUS enough to be open to what the design process might unearth
tensions between reconciling these two seemingly polar-opposite concepts will inevitably arise, particularly if the design brief seeks something distinctly different from the status quo – i.e. it seeks innovation, rather than incremental change.
There will be tension between the known and the unknown – the known knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns. There will be tension between knowledge and concept – practical reality (knowledge) and creativity (concepts); and there could be tension between trying to reconcile what BIG wants (eg. Education minister, School system; budget constraints) with the wants and needs of the SMALL (eg. individual students’ learning needs, work skills needed for future).
There is value in a design brief that acknowledges and identifies these tensions and constraints so that they can be brought to the design process, informing and becoming part of the end solution.