- North Carolina State University
Master of Graphic Design Exhibit:
Framing Context by Caroline Maxcy Prietz
- For a first semester studio project in North Carolina State University's Master of Graphic Design program we created an exhibition around the cognitive concepts and frameworks of Design Thinking. Each student tackled researching and designing a wall panel around one Design Thinking concept: Visual Thinking, Schemas, Prototyping, Brainstorming, Situatedness, Lateral Thinking, Morphological Thinking, Innovation Process, Rules and Constraints, Scenarios, Pattern Finding, Hand/Mind, Concept Maps, Modeling and Sketching, Metaphorical Thinking and, my own, Framing Context.
- Framing Context
"Every design problem begins with the effort to achieve fitness between two entities: the form in question and its context."
When a photographer frames a picture through the lens of his camera, he makes a decision about what to include and what not to include. These choices change both the composition and the meaning of the photograph. Similarly, form is something the designer can shape to fit a design problem. Just like the framing of a picture, how that problem is defined determines the nature of the form. Some things are left in, others are edited out. Form and context, therefore, create an ensemble. The goodness of fit among elements of this ensemble and the form determines whether the design solution works or doesnt work.
Typically, it is not possible to address all aspects of context equally. We must make choices among competing priorities. The design of a tea cup, for example, has many factors that could have an effect on its design. But by limiting what we choose to take into consideration, the form of the cup responds to someone on the go, in the need for disposability or the social setting of afternoon tea. This framing of context the choice to privilege some concerns over others moves the design closer to a more effective fit between form and the conditions under which it must perform.
Alexander, Christopher. Notes on the Synthesis of Form. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1964.
Global Village Coffee Shop. Photograph by Caroline Maxcy Prietz. September 2008. Used with Permission.