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Design synthesis: an act of Research through Design

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Caroline ClaisseORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


We present a reflective practice where challenges of assembling, making sense of and drawing conclusions from co-created materials were addressed through a process of design synthesis that improved the clarity and meaning making during the interpretation process. In this paper, we illustrate our point by presenting a set of design research artifacts resulting from design synthesis: a manifesto, a scale model, a set of storyboards and illustrated characters. Inspired by the arts and creative practice in other disciplines such as film making, we adapted these methods as a means of transforming participants’ contributions into inspirational resources for interactive design. This process encouraged the production of new creative and active forms of documentation and enabled us to handle interpretation in a way that embraced the inspirational and provisional nature of our creative and participatory processes. By doing so, we broaden the current practice of documentation in design and show how our process of design synthesis can serve the purpose of co-creation. Finally, we encourage design practitioners to adapt and develop design-based methods to filter and externalize insights, making their thinking tangible for them and others so they can be collectively discussed, tested and reflected upon to inspire future ideas.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Claisse C, Petrelli D, Dulake N

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Proceedings of the 4th Biennial Research Through Design Conference

Year of Conference: 2019

Pages: Article 39

Online publication date: 22/04/2019

Acceptance date: 01/01/2019

Date deposited: 26/10/2020


DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.7855826.v2