“The Role of Conversational Models in Design Practice” by Derksen, Ruecker and Michura

  • ©Gerry Derksen, Stan Ruecker, and Piotr Michura



    The Role of Conversational Models in Design Practice



    Conversational models are a means to capture and effectively represent the complexity of discussions by applying a process to create interactive three-dimensional outcomes. Whereas a conversation proceeds linearly in time, the relationship between the topics covered can often be decidedly nonlinear, as the interlocutors build on previous parts of the sequence: adding, subtracting, modifying, providing nuance, suggesting supporting anecdotes or other forms of evidence, and adjusting detail. This paper describes an initial attempt to transfer this form of design activity to the office space. During a conference on design and healthcare participants were briefed on the concept and the process of creating physical models of conversations, then asked to create a model of their own discussions on suggested conference topics. Results of the pilot indicate that this exercise allowed participants to quite thoroughly explore the topic, with an interesting movement from summaries of content to a cycle of expressions of opinions and refinements of those opinions, followed by questions and more refinements. There may also be additional benefits in somewhat slowing down the conversation, allowing for a more evenly distributed contribution from all the participants, including those working with English as an additional language.


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