Many new designs are derived from a need or opportunity. Designers explore a range of needs and opportunities in order to create a way forward. This could be based on personal needs, personal interests, personal experiences and inspirations or it could come from a problem encountered that needs to be solved through invention of something new or innovation of a pre existing solution.
A need may not only come from the individual however. Often a design comes from a need described by a second party. (A client). This section of your folio is one of the most important steps in the design process and will set the scene and tone of your folio and project. It will be where you describe your MDP and it will be a starting point for what research you will need to complete.
In this section of your portfolio, you are required to describe a real need or opportunity that you wish to solve. This is often completed in part in the form of a Design Situation.
A design situation is used to provide an overview to the examiners as to why you are completing this project. Generally, a design situation will not be a lengthy document. It could be as short as a couple of paragraphs as long as you can clearly describe the situation. Below is an example of a possible design situation.
People working as hairdressers use a variety of tools specific to their trade. Tools such as scissors are very expensive and can be irreparably damages if dropped or knocked of a bench. It is common for Hairdressers to use a small trolly with draws to store the equipment needed. The trollies that are currently available very generic. They are black with plastic, open removable draws.
“Express Hair and Beauty” is a small boutique salon with timber counters and fittings. The owner Melissa, would like furniture to match this look however is unable to purchase a tool trolley to which will fit the tools she often uses which as specific to her industry. She also would like a trolley which match the styling of the salon.
In the first paragraph of this design situation a brief description is provided of specific needs that people working in the Hairdressing industry have. Once this is established, the second paragraph goes on to identify a specific problem that a salon owner has relating to the situation described. In this situation, the salon owner would be the client. If a student was to take on this design problem, the client would be an important part of the design process as Melissa has knowledge about specific needs and difficulties she has.
At this point, you will need to re-enforce your stated need. Provide preliminary research which further explains the need and highlights to the examiners why this is a problem that needs to be solved. You should provide primary and secondary research highlighting the issues. These could be in the form of interviews, photographs or statistics obtained from surveys or government statistics. Always document the source of your images, surveys or statistics.
If we take the example of the Salon owner, an example of primary research would be discussions you have had with the owner. You may also be able to back this up by speaking to other people in the same industry to determine if this particular problem is specific only to your client or industry wide.
Secondary research could include photographs found in magazines, newspapers, through internet searches or taken by yourself. These images would be annotated to highlight how the available products don’t meet your need.