Artful Surfaces: An Ethnographic Study Exploring the Use of Space in Design Studios

Dhaval Vyas, L. Malmborg (Editor), Antinus Nijholt, J. Sussner (Editor)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Alargely overlooked aspect of creative design practices is how physical space in design studios plays a role in supporting designers’ everyday work. In particular, studio surfaces such as designers’ desks, office walls, notice boards, clipboards and drawing boards are full of informative, inspirational and creative artefacts such as, sketches, drawings, posters, story-boards and Post-it notes. Studio surfaces are not just the carriers of information but importantly they are sites of methodic design practices, i.e. they indicate, to an extent, howdesign is being carried out.This article describes the results of an ethnographic study on the use of workplace surfaces in design studios, from two academic design departments. Using the field study results, the article introduces an idea of ‘artful surfaces’. Artful surfacesemphasise howartfully designers integrate these surfaces into their everyday work and how the organisation of these surfaces comes about helping designers in accomplishing their creative and innovative design practices. Using examples from the field study, the article shows that artful surfaces have both functional and inspirational characteristics. From the field study, three types of artful surfaces are identified: personal; shared; and project-specific. The article suggests that a greater insight into how these artful surfaces are created and used could lead to better design of novel display technologies to support designers’ everyday work.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)176-195
    Number of pages20
    JournalDigital creativity
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


    • IR-80485
    • METIS-296064
    • HMI-HF: Human Factors
    • EWI-21883

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