Through learning by doing, School of Design (SD) students at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) acquire the skills necessary for defining such foundational project components as a design brief, or planning and managing a design process. A preliminary enquiry into the reality of students’ experience of initial project development phases leading up to a formulation of a design statement and design concept specifications has lent insight into the critical process within student projects. It focused on the way students link design project developmental steps, and how disruptions occur in this fundamental stage of the project.
The project probed into the reality of SD’s design methodology educational experiences, and considered the value of Play in enriching such practices. While design shapes culture, according to cultural theorist Johan Huizinga, the latter is the outcome of Play. Hence Play appeared to be an appropriate cognitive and experiential framework to structure design methodology education.
Based on findings from this preliminary study, and an appropriate contextualization of play elements and principles into design, a Design Play, a series of models were defined to specify and produce an interactive Design Project Planning and Management Toolkit, for use in undergraduate and postgraduate design education.
The toolkit integrates fundamental design and play elements to better guide apprentices and professionals in their appreciation of design methodology’s multidimensional and immanent nature. More specifically it describes how play narratives are intrinsically woven into what we call the Design Continuum, in which free play and rule based play nurture divergent and convergent design thinking cycles.
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