Dirty design

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Dirty Design Session (Author: Prof. Sonja Hörster)

  • A "Dirty Design Session" is a creative method that works with the different perspectives on a design question. A design session creates space in which emerging ideas and concepts can be put down on paper, jointly differentiated and recorded as a draft.
  • During a design process it is often useful that emerging ideas and concepts can be sketched as a spontaneous draft. The group (or several groups) is given the opportunity to put their ideas on paper in a relatively short time window. The name "Dirty Design" already shows that these are approximations that may be discarded at any time.

What are the goals of this method?

  • Finding multi-perspective answers to design questions (how....?)
  • Develop creative solutions and visualize them
  • Visible solutions

In which situations can this method be applied?

  • A "Dirty Design Session" is suitable for working intensively in smaller teams of four to five people on the solution of a design question.
  • The design session is often a session within a longer workshop (one to several days). Every workshop participant can take part in this session.

How does this method work in practice?

  • Determine time frame: between 45 minutes and 2 hours
  • Form multi-perspective small groups: 4 to 6 people, like to mix people with different perspectives
  • Ask "how questions": How does this xxx has to be designed to solve xxx?
  • Collect thoughts, exchange, discuss ideas and draw them on a map

Examples of typical results

What are typical next steps after applying this method?

  • Several design sessions can follow each other, but there should always be phases in which the results are presented and possibly discussed in a larger group. Breaks should also not be forgotten.
  • Detailing concepts

Any limitations and typical pitfalls?

  • This method must be prepared by other methods. The teams should already be in resonance with the place and the task.
  • The method must be prepared: plans and drawing materials must be available.

Worksheets and Materials

  • If you have or know any practical worksheets or templates, please add them here for download
  • If these come from other websites, please link directly to those and add the authors you are referring to here

Further readings, links and references

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