In «Not storytelling, but storychanging» we use design to engage, involve and inspire people to take part in shaping and developing their own communities. How could the visual language democratize place development processes and give people power to influence the future?

The focus is on four stages:  

  • Identify resources
  • Create connetctions
  • Invite to imagination
  • Prepare for action

Back in 2010, as a Research Fellow in the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme, I started an investigation of the design process, courious about the concept flow. Or more precicely: Eager to find out why it was a lack of flow in my own process. During the years the investigation lead to the development of a new state, Methodomania, which offer courses, methods and tools for designers seeking the magical moment of flow.

 

Methodomania is an fictive state, established in April 27 2012. In Methodomania the locals believe strongly there is a method for everything, and a method for everyone. The inhabitants are convinsed that you can do things badly wrong, waste a lot of time and end up with poor results, by using wrong methods, or even worse, by paying no attention to methods at all. The project is inspired by serious play. 


In 2012 Assoiciate Professor Bente Irminger became a highly appreciated citizen of Methodomania. Together we continued the investigation of the design process, focusing more and more on social design and interdiciplinary creative teams. 


What is flow?

Flow – a state of heightened focus and immersion in activities such as art, play and work – was first described by the Hungarian Psycologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. One reason why flow matters in creative processes, is that in a state of flow you loose your inner critic. When you are in a state of flow, you will not jugde your self. This opens up for productivity and innovation. Csikszentmihaly discovered flow when he tried to answer the question «What is joy». 


The challenge – Research Question

How to make designers aware of flow and inspire them to improve their personal design process? 


The process

It started very simple. I did reflect on my own design process, and shared my relfections in courses for Bachelors studends in design at KHiB. I developed a small toolkit that designers could use to reflect on and improve their processes. Belief and self confidence became key words. When Irminger and I in 2011 invited the 1st year’s Master students in Design at Bergen Academy of Art and Design1 to take part in a four week long course dealing with ordinary challenges in society, we also asked the four groups of studens to log their process on a roll of paper (a table clothe, to be honnest). One of the findings suprised us. The groups did not strugle with ideation, but decicion making. Why was so much of the litterature about creative processes about ideation, and so little about descisions and how to believe in the descisions you made? We also expereinced that there is a lot of methods, shared in books, videos and cards, known for many, free to use, but still designers did´n use them. There were need for a method reminder, more than another book or toolkit. 


In 2015 we both started to teach in Design Thinking Bergen, Norway. We soon learned that interdiciplinary team work are more easy to make work in theory, than in practice. The need for tools for making interdiciplinary creative teams functional became urgent. 


At the same time our faculty was part of a building process, and in autumn 2017 studens and staff from Dep. of design and dep. of Fine Art moved into a brand new building in Bergen. 


The construction of the building was based on the principles of Lean philosophy. When we almost at the same time were invited to develop a workshop on managing complex artistic research projects, we reflected on why it would be such a disaster to use the Lean philosophy in creative processes. Why was efficiency and no waste of resources not positive? It became clear that our design projects consist of two parallel processes: The administration of the project, such as organizing user surveys, facilitating meetings, purchasing materials, and the creative process, where new ideas can emerge as a result of detours, errors and misunderstandings. Too often these two processes are mixed together.

 

The outcome

A fictive state, Methodomania, where you can become citizen. By becoming an citizen, you get access to resources and network. Inspired by Lean's philosophy, we also developed a workshop concept where the construction of a tree is included. Does the tree grow or die during your process? 


Reflections

Teamwork and cooperation with other professional groups are becoming increasingly common and important, as well as inclusive and user-driven design.3 There has been a change in design from designing for people, to designing with people. The changes in the design profession has affected both the design education and the designer's working methods, and we have got new methods for co-creation and user involvment the last year. But very little attention are payed to the designers inner process: The conflict that might arise between the personal creative process, and designing for and with other people. 

 

 

 

 



[1] From 1st of January 2017 Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen
[1] Social design has been put on the agenda in different ways the recent years. “Should designers concentrate on creating commercially viable products and services, or should they use their talent to handle social challenges such as health, aging or sustainability?”, askes designer and chief executive of the Danish Design Centre Christian Bason in the article Dilemmafylt design, Mandag Morgen, 07.11.2014, https://www.mm.dk/blog/dilemmafyldt-design/
[2] Bergen Academy of Art and Design established in 2015 an interdisciplinary part-time study in Design Thinking: Strategic design for innovation, together with Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) and Bergen University College (HiB). Here designers work together with economists and engineers, with a high degree of user involvement, which requires a different approach to project development than traditional designer-client relationships. More on user involvement in: Sanders, Elizabeth B.-N., “Design Research”, Design Research Quarterly, V.I:1 September 2006.


Methodomania

BENTE IRMINGER (bente.irminger@uib.no)

Associate Professor, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen 

LINDA LIEN (linda.lien@uib.no)

Associate Professor, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen 

BENTE IRMINGER (bente.irminger@uib.no)

Associate Professor, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen 

LINDA LIEN (linda.lien@uib.no)

Associate Professor, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen 

BENTE IRMINGER (bente.irminger@uib.no)

Associate Professor, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen 

LINDA LIEN (linda.lien@uib.no)

Associate Professor, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, University of Bergen 

Don´t panic. From our temprary office in Bergen the summer of 2017. 

From some of the Methodomania courses.