Building a Common Ground – The Use of Design Representation Cards for Enhancing Collaboration between Industrial Designers and Engineering Designers

PEI, Eujin, CAMPBELL, Ian and EVANS, Mark A (2009). Building a Common Ground – The Use of Design Representation Cards for Enhancing Collaboration between Industrial Designers and Engineering Designers. In: Undisciplined! Design Research Society Conference 2008, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK, 16-19 July 2008.


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To achieve success in today’s commercial environment, manufacturers have progressively adopted collaboration strategies. Industrial design has been increasingly used with engineering design to enhance competitiveness. Research between the two fields has been limited and existing collaboration methods have not achieved desired results.

This PhD research project investigated the level of collaboration between industrial designers and engineering designers. The aim is to develop an integration tool for enhanced collaboration, where a common language would improve communication and create shared knowledge.

An empirical research using questionnaires and observations identified 61 issues between industrial designers and engineering designers. The results were grouped and coded based on recurrence and importance, outlining 3 distinct problem categories in collaborative activity: conflicts in values and principles, differences in design representation, and education differences. A taxonomy further helped categorise design representations into sketches, drawings, models and prototypes. This knowledge was indexed into cards to provide uniform definition of design representations with key information. They should benefit practitioners and educators by serving as a decision-making guide and support a collaborative working environment.

A pilot study first refined the layout and improved information access. The final validation involving interviews with practitioners revealed most respondents to be convinced that the tool would provide a common ground in design representations, contributing to enhanced collaboration. Additional interviews were sought from groups of final-year industrial design and engineering design students working together. Following their inter-disciplinary experience, nearly all respondents were certain that the cards would provide mutual understanding for greater product success.

Lastly, a case study approach tested the cards in an industry-based project. A design diary captured and analysed the researchers’ activities and observations on a daily basis. It revealed positive feedback, reinforcing the benefits of the cards for successful collaboration in a multi-disciplinary environment.

Industrial Design, Engineering Design, Collaboration, Design Representation, New Product Development.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (-)
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2009
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 14:04

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