Abundance of information: how do designers use information?

2006-05-05T09:56:18Z (GMT) by Philip Rhodes
Coleridge's famous line about water everywhere without a drop to drink may serve as a useful metaphor for the contemporary design studio. Engulfed within a sea of information, where does the designer look for references? This paper outlines the results of an ongoing research project entitled 'Interactive Multimedia within the Design Studio' (grant awarded by FAPEMIG - Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais). In considering the information resources available within the design studio, McLuhan's often quoted phrase 'the medium is the message' raises interesting questions. The medium selected by the designer as a source of information may have an effect on the result of the design process. Indeed the role of the designer within the communication process may depend upon the medium being consulted. Similarly the choice of one information source rather than another may also influence the result of the design process. This paper therefore explores the mediums (information resources) available to the contemporary designer, the use of those mediums, and why the designer chooses to use certain mediums whilst ignoring or rejecting others. The paper will discuss these issues within the context of the results of a survey conducted among practising designers within Belo Horizonte, Brasil. The survey looks in particular at the work of graphic designers, however product designers, interior designers and architects are also considered.