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Title: The early product concept prototyping strategy in participatory design process
Authors: Lee, Yu Hin Brian
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2019
Abstract: Helping design workshop participants to envision or create a prototype, whether visual or physical, is not without obstacles for many experienced workshop organisers. I am frequently invited to host different types of design workshops for diverse participants. My reflections and those of other workshop facilitators express the same frustration: it is always difficult to help diverse participants to create a prototype and move forward their concept for the public or for user evaluation. This thesis investigates the early design process and seeks to understand how and under what conditions we can enhance the prototyping ability (prototype-ability) of participants from different backgrounds in a collaborative workshop setting based on 12 cases and a conceptualisation test for a large group of people. The results are compared with the framework for organising participatory design tools and techniques, suggesting an extension of the framework to improve the effective early prototyping process. To respond to the call for collective action to foster a liveable and smart city in global and local contexts, with characteristics such as limited resources, population ageing and pollution, a better articulated participatory design approach is needed to effectively engage diverse stakeholders and multidisciplinary experts. In Manzini words (2015), we need to visualise the contexts and improve the facilitation of social conversation about the future. This thesis investigates the design process in a participatory design workshop environment and aims to inform a practical methodology for the early phase of the design concept development process - the description of a facilitator training framework that can guide participants to formulate an appropriate verbal and visual concept (or rough sketches) for the development of the early phase product concept prototype (also called proof-of-concept prototype) that can ensure explicit conversation amongst the stakeholders. How can we ensure an effective prototyping process in the early phase of the design workshop? This is considered the most critical question for participants to meet the criteria and guidelines for prototype-ability in the collaborative product design process.
The main research objective of this thesis is to identify the relationship between quality interaction in the prototyping process and appropriate design outcomes, in which any factor may improve the initial design concept generation phase. How can the quality of early phase concept prototyping be improved in a collaborative design environment? This question is often asked in design workshops by participants who cannot effectively create an appropriate and articulated prototype in a teamwork environment, and facilitators are rarely able to provide a good answer. Ownership of the project by the participants is also essential for participatory design to carry through and sustain the work, even if the workshop facilitators and design team leave the project. Thus, a prototype is a stepping stone in a participatory design project. The initial discussion of the work focuses on understanding design activities, design thinking and design reasoning, particularly visual and spatial thinking. The following scaffolding work is a discussion of the design process and quality of the design workshop work for and with stakeholders. Twelve workshop cases involving designers and non-designers were selected for the case study analysis. The main problems of the design workshops are identified and the problem space, focusing on the prototyping process, is the main research target. The case studies revealed that quality prototyping was one of the most influential factors for successful workshops. The concepts associated with the elements were identified during the case studies. For instance, the transformation of an abstract idea into a concrete concept (concreteness), the situational design (situatedness) and the physicality of the design concept (objectness) were the three main hypothetical factors of the design experiment of this research. Design-trained and non-design-trained informants were invited to perform sequential design tasks, including concept brainstorming and scenario design through sketching. The final discussion correlates the performance of the informants with the factors enabling concept representation that affect prototyping. In the last section of the thesis, I construct a descriptive model to articulate the parameters to improve early phase product design concept prototyping through qualitative and quantitative studies using case studies, interviews and a design task.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Product design
Pages: 303 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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