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Designing through the idea of seeing something in a different context | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

Designing through the idea of seeing something in a different context

Looking at issues

breaking those issues to put them in a new context

It’s pretty common to realize that if someone is too close to an issue they might not be able to see it in a broader context. Because they’re so focused on one or two elements it doesn’t allow them to take a step back from what they’re thinking and consider different point of views. I’ve been thinking about this issue for a while trying to figure out how to actually take a step back and mash things up into a new context that might present new options that wouldn’t have been considered before with designs.

One way to consider it is to see the design issue on a single plane. While reading an interview that Dazed did with John Savage about taking his exhibition outside of the UK to NYC, it gave viewers a new perspective that wouldn’t have been seen in the same light in London. Savage mentions “Often we in the UK see American culture much more clearly than Americans do. Often, you need to go into another country to get some recognition and interest. No doubt the Americans haven’t really seen this kind of artwork from the British punk period at all. I think it’s very interesting that it is in New York. In the UK people have a lot of fixed ideas about punk and so that might preclude them from seeing the material for what it was or wanting to put the material in an exhibition.” So for this example the use of geography was what shifted things. Time is another element that can shift things. Maybe turning things upside down works too. The point is to try to shed light on the design issue in a manner that makes things slightly different to trigger more things that wouldn’t have been seen otherwise.

Following that the next challenge is to take pieces of that reshifted plane and build it into something new. If a person has been 1. able to put their design issue into the context of a single plane, 2. able to shift that plane, 3. the next step of cutting that shifted plane into different pieces shouldn’t be much more of a mental shift. By stacking those pieces together and mashing them up there’s a chance that something pretty cool and original is going to happen. Instead of looking at what has already been done and modifying things a bit, placing new context out of shifted pieces and combining elements allows for a new context that couldn’t have been made before. By allowing things to react in a manner that wasn’t first available creates a new space to design in.

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