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Examples of Design Briefs

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Design students often find it hard to understand what is a design brief. I think that books like Peter L. Philips' are useful but I've seen students even more lost after reading them. I hope these seven examples and criteria help clarify things...

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Examples of Design Briefs

  1. 1. 7 EXAMPLES OF DESIGN BRIEFS And 7 criteria of good design briefs Dr. Ricardo Sosa (
  2. 2. 1: Open-ended, well-defined problem • The challenge is an online competition to generate business ideas to solve current health care issues. What is your idea to empower (ex-)cancer patients? Share it here and have a chance to win 10.000 euro to make it really happen! • The number of cancer patients worldwide is still growing every day. If recent trends in the development of cancer will continue in the future, the estimated number of new patients worldwide in 2030 will grow to 22 million each year. In the same time a growing number of cancer types can be treated in such a way that it becomes a chronic - instead of a fatal disease. This means that more and more people will survive cancer, instead of dying from it. According to the Dutch Cancer Society KWF, the number of patients that survived the disease has doubled over the last sixty years. We want to come up with the business solution that will improve the quality of their lives and their health and healthcare. Dr. Ricardo Sosa (
  3. 3. 2: High constraints: theme, pieces, materials • Theme: “Eating in Style” – Fish and seafood cutlery and serving plate which include: • Fish knife and fork, lobster fork, crab cracker, oyster fork, shrimp scissors, seafood pick and caviar spoon. Fish and seafood serving plate • The main material for making the cutlery is metal but, combinations which include other fine materials are also allowed. The serving plate design should be suitable for production in porcelain, glass, metal and other precious materials. • All submitted entries must be entirely new and original creations, both functional and aesthetically pleasing, suitable for large- scale production. • All items should be made as 3D digital models and should also be presented in high resolution rendered images so as to clearly show the shape, appearance and purpose of the artefacts, as well as their dimensions, materials, finishing of the surfaces and paints. Dr. Ricardo Sosa (
  4. 4. 3: Very specific: a poster for a specific movie • [x and y] invite artists, designers and creative minds to create a limited edition promotional poster for the new movie “Filth”. The winning artist will also see their design feature in the Metro newspaper, recieve £1,000, and promotion across [x and y] official channels. • Top movie studio [x] invite artists, designers and creative minds to create a limited edition promotional poster for the new movie Filth. One winning design, as selected by Filth author Irvine Welsh and Director Jon S. Baird, will be printed in the Metro newspaper (with a readership of over 3.5 million!) and win £1,000 cash. Their design will be featured across the movie's official channels and they will receive a large scale printed, signed and framed version of their poster. • Download the template from the Talenthouse website and get designing! Your poster should include the logos and fonts, the release date (October 4th 2013) cast names: James McAvoy, Jamie Bell and Jim Broadbent. Dr. Ricardo Sosa (
  5. 5. 4: Open-ended, general future situation • The Competition invites architecture students around the world to apply their creative talents toward developing solutions, which integrate older persons seamlessly into the fabric of the community and include them in all social, cultural, and productive activities. • A Sleeping Giant is being awakened, “The Agequake” is here! Every month around the world over 1.2 million people turn 60 years old, with fastest growth in developing countries. The number of older persons, who are living in cities, towns, suburbs, and rural areas around the world, is increasing. By the year 2030 the number of people over 60 will reach 1.4 billion. In some developed countries by the year 2050 the number of older persons will outnumber children (1-14) by 2:1. These dramatic demographic shifts pose serious design and planning challenges. Most communities are not prepared for a rapidly ageing population. Therefore, it is useful for this competition to offer ideas, novel approaches and innovative concepts, which could inform the global search for solutions. The goal is to find many ways of accommodating and integrating older people as full and productive members of their respective communities. [see next slide for more details] Dr. Ricardo Sosa (
  6. 6. 4: Open-ended, general future situation (cont’d) • The design competition program and the respective submissions must address a number of key concerns. They include the following issues critical to the success of societal integration of older people: Key Issues include: • Location: Strategic placement of facilities for older people within walking distance where older persons can contribute and be engaged. • Connectivity: Establishment of physical and possibly electronic connectivity to amenities and services. • Symbiosis: Matching of talents and interests of older people and needs of society. • Dignity: Uphold and preserve the personal rights and personal domain regardless of any reduction in faculties. • Access: Availability of essential services such ashealthcare, food, educational facilities, recreational areas, social services and transportation. • Security: Provide a sense of safety in physical and psychological terms. Dr. Ricardo Sosa (
  7. 7. 5: Apply tools, methods or standards • IEEE is offering grants to both students and faculty mentors to help with graduate and capstone design projects with an industry standards component.* IEEE will publish the results as a student application paper. Requirements: • Student(s) beginning a design or development project will submit an abstract summary describing the project, which includes: • a summary of the project goal (i.e., what are you trying to build?); • an understanding of what standards are being considered to achieve the project goal; • a declaration of intention to submit an application paper for publication by the IEEE upon completion of the project; • a statement of endorsement from a faculty mentor must be included. • *Examples of industry standards: IEEE 802.11 Standard for Wireless LANs, IEEE 11073 Standards for Health Infomatics, National Electric Safety Code, etc. For a list of IEEE groups working on industry standards, see Standards Working Groups. Note that eligible projects may also use non-IEEE standards. Dr. Ricardo Sosa (
  8. 8. 6: Two versions The [xx] Design Competition challenges students and young designers to design creative, functional staircases and/or balustrades. [xx] is looking for staircase and/or balustrade designs in two categories: Custom Design and Standard Design. Dr. Ricardo Sosa (
  9. 9. 7 Dr. Ricardo Sosa (
  10. 10. The theme of the BraunPrize 2012 is: “Genius design for a better everyday”. The new BraunPrize 2012 embraces the increased relevance of well-designed products that help improve all aspects of everyday life. With most people’s daily challenges becoming increasingly complex and demanding, we rely on ubiquitous technology, highly connected social structures and our ability to cope with a fast, 24/7 lifestyle. Our everyday has become an artificial environment of architecture and technology and while it seems that the quantity of products around us is consistently increasing, their level of quality is not. We have surrounded ourselves by many things we don´t really value, instead of focusing on fewer but better solutions to help us live our lives. With this in mind, the BraunPrize 2012 is looking for ingenious solutions and product ideas to make our everyday a better place. The product concepts submitted should represent innovations in design and technology, focusing on key areas and challenges of today like sustainability, health & well being, the aging population, mobility and individuality. The conceptual designs should be developed with user needs in mind, showing applications which support them in their everyday lives – at home, work or school on our daily commute, during sports and leisure activities, or in the context of health and personal care. Concepts can address global problems or find simple, ingenious solutions for daily routines. Participants are free to choose any subject for their product concepts as long as there is a connection to the everyday theme. The jury assesses all product concepts with the following criteria: Design – the combination of innovation, usability, ergonomics and aesthetics Technology – the use of innovative technology to improve product functionality Sustainability – the environmental compatibility of the product concept Focal point of the product concept’s design should be the benefit it provides for the user and society. The following additional factors are also taken into account during the assessment process: The clarity of the content; The quality of the presentation; A thorough analysis of the assumptions on which the product concept is based; The feasibility of the concept with regard to processes and costs Dr. Ricardo Sosa (
  11. 11. SO, WHAT IS A GOOD DESIGN BRIEF? Dr. Ricardo Sosa (
  12. 12. So, what is a good design brief? 1. There are no recipes, but there are formats and approaches 2. It is clear, but it’s not a set of instructions 3. It is open-ended, but can vary and even be quite constrained 4. Invites participation with an interesting challenge 5. It (preferably) justifies the main themes/constraints/goals 6. It provides support for classifying entries (categories, modalities) 7. It provides general assessment criteria and rules, but not a checklist Dr. Ricardo Sosa (
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Design students often find it hard to understand what is a design brief. I think that books like Peter L. Philips' are useful but I've seen students even more lost after reading them. I hope these seven examples and criteria help clarify things...


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