Design concepts are very much alive: they’re born, they grow, and they mature, becoming the best possible version of themselves. All this happens in the context of curation, but how exactly can design managers streamline the curation of design concepts for a faster and more efficient workflow?
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What is meant by design curation?
Originally, the word “curate” comes from the Latin “to take care of”. In a design environment, design curation refers to the practice of selecting, improving, or editing a concept. The process is closely linked to other aspects of design, such as creation, since ultimately, curation aims to build a meaningful and unique connection between a design concept and its end user.
Creation and curation are also connected by the impact they have on people’s lives. Design curation is not just as an artistic endeavor, but rather it’s oriented towards refining a concept so that it improves quality of life or makes certain tasks easier. The analytical and critical aspects of curation are inherent to design as a discipline, because after all, the objects we design don’t exist in a vacuum but have a purpose and being fit-to-purpose is critical.
The intricate relationship between creation and curation means that it’s not possible to draw a clear-cut line between these two processes. In industrial design, creation and curation are interconnected due to the iterative nature of design. In modern design workflows, a concept must be reviewed, revised, refined, shaped, reshaped, and improved until it becomes the best possible version of itself.
Problems involved in the curation of design concepts
We have said that there’s no clear-cut divide between creation and curation. But often, in corporate design settings both are tangled up in loops that aren’t conducive to productivity. Some of the common problems that arise during design curation include:
Design curation isn’t just a process of selecting which elements to keep and which ones to eliminate. These choices have to be communicated with extreme accuracy. However, there’s often a gap between the intention behind curation instructions and their implementation.
This can be the result of communication problems between designers and design managers. Sometimes, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that design has a multidisciplinary orientation, where different backgrounds, specialisms and job descriptions come together. As you probably know, it can be hard to align all these perspectives into a coherent whole.
Media translation problems
Translation problems are one of the main shortcomings embedded in the design process since multiple media transfers between 2D and 3D models are responsible for many process inefficiencies.
Traditional design and curation tools are limited in their interoperability. That is to say that they’re not necessarily created to be used with each other or with platform integration in mind. Importing and exporting concepts to and from different software packages can cause accuracy losses. And in some cases, curating a concept means undoing a large part of the work or starting from scratch.
Changes in environmental factors
The digitalization of design, changes caused by the pandemic, and the widespread adoption of remote work create additional hurdles to effective design curation. In corporate settings, the design workflow was complex enough before these environmental changes took place. Nowadays, the level of complexity has increased exponentially. Digital processes and remote work can make it problematic to incorporate different perspectives into the curation process and to communicate them accurately.
Overcoming design curation problems
Reconsider the importance of novelty
Design doesn’t only entail the creation of novel concepts; it also has to do with making the right decisions over what will work and what won’t. There’s only so much novelty we can create from scratch. In fact, some affirm that this shouldn’t necessarily be the ultimate goal of design, since the best design professionals are those with exceptional curation skills.
In this respect, it can be useful to reconsider the intention behind curation so that it doesn’t exclusively focus on the production of new ideas. Instead, value delivery should be the driving force behind curation. This approach can also help take some pressure off designers in your team.
Balance the creative and curational aspects of design
In corporate design, it’s necessary to delimit to some extent who creates and who curates. Those in managerial roles are more likely to be less hands-on with regards to creation, and more directly involved with curation. However, creation and curation don’t have to be separated or take place in silos. Collaboration is essential to a balanced approach where both creation and curation flow smoothly, contributing to success instead of detracting from it.
As a design manager, you could benefit from reviewing workflows to find “collaboration blind spots”. Once these are obvious, it may be helpful to assess whether these aspects of the workflow need more creative input, or a more curational approach.
As mentioned in the previous section, many of the challenges involved in integrating curation into design workflows stem from communication problems. Communication is a practice that must be supported by right tools to be as effective as it can possibly be.
VR design tools like flyingshapes enable a collaborative and communication-centric design environment where design managers and their teams can interact irrespective of their location. But effective communication goes beyond interaction. So flyingshapes puts at your disposal a range of communication-centric tools that allow you to transmit feedback and specific instructions accurately. Other valuable features include a virtual tape tool, voice annotations, and the ability to conduct reviews in one-to-one and team mode.
Transform workflows with virtual reality software
Curation is embedded in the different stages of the design workflow. But as most design managers know, curational work often takes place in loops that force teams to backtrack and undo their work, only to redo it once again.
Virtual reality tools can help transform long-winded and inefficient workflows into a coherent narrative with forward momentum. Not only they eliminate communicative inefficiencies by facilitating shared understandings, but they also remove the need for redundant steps in the design workflow, such as taping on clay models or 3D rendering.
What’s more, the communicative environment created by virtual reality helps unify the different languages used in design curation into high-fidelity 3D representations. The resulting shared language is visual, accurate, and contextualized so that design teams can make purposeful progress along the workflow.
Communication and collaboration-centric virtual reality tools can help design managers tackle common barriers in design curation, whether they’re organizational or practical, at individual or at project level. This technology enables the creation of design solutions that are fit for purpose, solve problems, and contribute to a better user experience. Does this sound appealing? Then request your free flyingshapes trial today.