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Conference Proceeding

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Publication Details

This conference proceeding was originally published as:

Rickett, C., & Williams, A. (2015). Real-world design team activity: What is poetry for? In R. Valkenburg, C. Dekkers, & J. Sluijs (Eds.), Reframing design. Paper presented at the Participatory Innovation Conference PIN-C, University of Applied Sciences, The Hague, 18-20 May (pp. 40-46). The Hague, The Netherlands: Participatory Innovation Conference PIN-C.

ISBN: 9789073077669


1203 DESIGN PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT| 199999 Studies in the Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified| 200101 Communication Studies| 200599 Literary Studies not elsewhere classified

Reportable Items



Shared understanding is often the ultimate goal driving any communication exchange. In an industry-based context where Multi-Disciplinary Design Teams are commercially employed to deliver timely and concrete outcomes, establishing a common understanding amongst team members is imperative for achieving this end.

One of the challenges faced by Multi-Disciplinary Design Teams is the clear communication of discipline-specific information to colleagues who may not share the same technical or procedural frame of reference. It is not uncommon for senders of expert-specific messages to find that intended recipients do not comprehend the message’s original meaning. In such instances where a message fails to Participatory Innovation Conference 2015, The Hague, The Netherlands create common knowledge, a sender might choose to renew and re-communicate it by employing language from another domain as a strategy for generating greater clarity and alignment amongst team members. In this negotiated understanding, technical language may be replaced by figurative or poetic language as a way of overcoming previous gaps in transmission and comprehension of design thinking.

While linguistic concepts such as analogy and metaphor are often associated with literary domains, this paper explores the ways in which messages that were previously constrained by the precision of technical terminology might be transformed into a more effective medium by the use of connotative and creative language in design contexts.


Used by permission: Participatory Innovation Conference (PIN-C) and the authors.

The proceedings of the 4th Participatory Innovation Conference 2015 (PIN-C) are available from the conference website here.