Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

On the richness of diagrams and their importance to designers

Fathulla, K. (2009) On the richness of diagrams and their importance to designers. Paper presented to: Design IX - 3rd International Conference on Design Principles and Practices, Berlin, Germany, 15-17 February 2009. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Abstract: Diagrams play an important role in the work of designers. Designers draw diagrams to explore ideas and solutions; designers are often said to be in “reflective conversation” with their drawings. Leonardo Da Vinci’s search for new solutions often led him to project new meanings into the forms he saw in his old discarded sketches. This is only a glimpse of what designers do with diagrams. Consequently, diagrams generated by designers have richness reflected in terms of the diagrams containing a mixed collections of symbolic and spatial elements, a variety of types of diagrams each having its own distinct semantics, containing messy parts because of the need to relax the rules of well formedness particularly when diagramming is part of a creative process, the diagramming process is dynamic rather than static with some of the designers purpose being expressed in the dynamics of the activity of drawing, and so on. The question now becomes how to account for the richness of diagrams which makes them an indispensable part of any designers work. There are several competing and often contradictory ways of addressing the question and most are reductionists i.e. assuming a single perspective. The current view is that these ways are unsatisfactory and thus there are renewed calls for better answers. We put forward a framework of understanding diagrams based on the Mapping between Symbolic and Spatial Aspects known as SySpM. The framework, grounded in philosophical underpinnings, is developed to account for the challenges of making sense of diagrams especially those generated by designers. We will demonstrate these strengths of the framework by applying it to the interpretation of a number of diversely different and semantically rich diagrams
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NC Drawing. Design. Illustration
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics > P99 Semiotics. Signs and symbols
Creators: Fathulla, Kamaran
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Business & Law > Information Systems and Business Computing (to 2010)
Faculties > Faculty of Business & Law > Business Systems & Operations
Date: 15 February 2009
Date Type: Presentation
Event Title: Design IX - 3rd International Conference on Design Principles and Practices
Event Dates: 15-17 February 2009
Event Location: Berlin, Germany
Event Type: Conference
Language: English
Status: Unpublished
Refereed: No
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