Design Brief Exploration

Word count: 240

You receive a brief or have an idea which you think is worthwhile taking forward. Here are some methods to unpick and  harness the details and scope of the brief.

Take the brief, read it, and highlight the bits which you find interesting or noteworthy then you could do the following:

Explore why the design brief exists

  • How is the brief is situated in a network of meaning.

Change the context

A chair sits in a room placed under a table. This is normal but it wouldn’t be if the chair was attached to the ceiling or in the washing machine for example.

Fragment and rearrange

  • Cut the design brief up into pieces and rearrange the pieces.

Sketch the brief

  • Make drawings and sketches to visualise the brief.


  • What are the categories of language: quotes, instructions, anecdotes.


  • Reconnect the pieces in different ways.
  • You could use the technique of mind-mapping to find connections between objects, words, images, concepts.
  • Intermingle these with written nodes of meaning and notes.
  • There may be significant quotes within the brief which can be made more prominent
  • Search around the subject matter for significant quotes or maxims
  • Look at the most prominent philosophers/  thinkers around the subject area and include some quotes from them.

Develop the design brief

  • Elaborate on the elements of the design brief which are most interesting / noteworthy – perhaps with a  mind map.

Linguistic breakdown

  • Look into the etymology of keywords.
  1. Wikipedia entry on Reductionism – Available at – – Accessed 2011

  2. Wikipedia entry on Deconstructivism  – Available at – – Accessed 2011

  3. Wikipedia entry on Storyboarding  – Available at – – Accessed 2011