Collaborative Design: A Real World Study of How Design Team Members Communicate Design Concepts

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This article was originally published as:

Williams, A. (2013). Collaborative design: A real world study of how design team members communicate design concepts. The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice, 6(3), 1-11.

ISSN: 2325-1638


129999 Built Environment and Design not elsewhere classified

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Although individual designers can successfully implement a multi-dimensional approach, large and complex design projects also invariably require collaborative work among designers. This paper considers the question of collaboration in large design projects and, more specifically, the concept of Multi Disciplinary Design Teams (MDDTs) and the communication strategies employed to achieve shared understanding. The paper reports on the findings of a research project that analyses the design processes of professional design practitioners in the workplace environment, using a range of established ethnographic research methods. The research reveals some significant anomalies that challenge our two main measures of performance: expertise and success. The research identified various success profiles of successful communication, which is distinct from conventional concepts of design expertise and differs according to the designers’ ability to articulate their design thinking to other members of the team. The project monitored team members of a MDDT, drawn from a range of design disciplines including engineers, architects, urban planners and industrial designers, and considered success in communicating design concepts within this context.


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