Design Narratives: Point of View

Faculty: Rob Walker




Point of view is a core building block of any successful design, and any successful design career. It isn’t simply about what you believe; it’s about why you believe it. In the real world, it’s easy to rationalize almost any design project as “good” from various sets of design criteria, but the strongest designers take a proactive role in defining and articulating a clear point of view and carrying it through their work. If designers are going to be more than takers of orders, executors of others’ ideas, or agents in the service of industry, they must enter the world with their own ideas, firmly grounded, passionate, and with a personal stake.



This course concerns itself with developing several competencies around the notion of point of view: Clarity: Point of view helps filter out “trend noise” and identify real problems rather than reacting to the traditional, market-driven paradigm; Empathy and Curiosity: Understanding (and evaluating) others’ points of view-especially of those most alien, and even disagreeable; Consistency and Transparency: Point of view is a story, and it is a story that has to be told honestly and openly; if it can’t stand up to full scrutiny, it’s not a real point of view; Legacy: The final reality check on any point of view is how it will be viewed in the future. In addition, students will be encouraged to think “beyond objects,” since point of view, going forward, may turn out to be best expressed in ways that don’t involve physical design, but rather game mechanics, virtual goods, augmented reality, or instantiations yet imagined. 



This class will be a mixture of lectures, discussions, and field trips, and will require both written and physical prototyped assignments. The design provocation, “Why do we make the things we make?” will provide the bookends to the course-asked once at the beginning and again at the end-with an eye toward demonstrating that point of view can sharpen both intent and result, and that the student has learned its utility in informing the best design work.



Students in this course will come away with a set of tools to:

  • Understand the role of point of view as a building block of original design creation
  • Obtain skills to clearly articulate point of view
  • Defend the student’s own design proposals and ideas
  • Critique the design proposals and ideas of peers
  • Inform and clarify long-term and short-term career goals
  • Inform and clarify the thesis project


Required READING (prior to class)