less conventional design disciplines+ my portfolio for input

Hello. Is there anyone here in fields like Design Management, Design Research, Interdisciplinary Design, Service Design, etc that wouldn’t mind sharing their stuff? In comparison to the traditional design vocations that make up the majority of core77’ers, the aforementioned fields are more about the research, thought process, experimentation, collaboration rather then “designy” stuff.

When the focus is not necessarily on creating a “design” but about the design-thinking process, how do you depict the the development and evolution of a project? Do you acknowledge constraints, challenges, feasibility, setbacks?

When the material produced is heavy in research, how do you present so much text in a portfolio?

The final products are often intangible. How do you visually communicate an experience?

How do you show your role and contributions in mostly collaborative projects?

Um. I think your so-called “Designy” designers are actually well versed in the design thinking process (at least they should). Industrial Designers will always have to “depict the development and revolution of a project” in their portfolio if they hope to work at one of the top design firms like IDEO or Smart. If you look at some of the portfolios around here, you’ll see a lot of designers do include their process starting from research to development to refinement, and the requirements for a lot of jobs include your thought process so they can assess you as a designer.

Research doesn’t have to be in text. It can be in visuals (charts, diagrams, sketches, scenarios, pictures, videos), and again, your so-called “designy” designers do this as well! Most of the good design schools have their students go through this process, and many of them are quite good at this!

I don’t think the final products are ever intangible. Even if you are a design researcher, you still have to pass on your learnings to the designers, whether it’s through documentation (combination of text and visuals), or presentation (video, slides).

Design management people usually were designers before they became management. How else would they know how to manage designers? I’d consider a manager who’s not a designer to be unqualified.

What is interdisciplinary design? You mean someone who does both ID and XD/ ID and CD?

I think all of the disciplines you cited are involved in projects. In that way, I think the presentation should be similar to regular portfolios: by project. I imagine you’d display it in a logical process from start to finish (interviews, user testing, velcro models, etc).

Anyway, your post implied that “traditional design vocations” don’t do any research or have thought processes or experiment or collaborate, and I disagree.

good thoughts Tarngerine.

I’d say the recent emphasis in research is “results oriented research”, what this means is that if someone did a bunch of research, and it doesn’t have a demonstrable impact, maybe it was not the right research to be doing. Just because a product designer does not show his research, don’t assume it isn’t there, he doesn’t have to if the product speaks for itself.

Most of the successful designers I know who are doing the type of work I think you are eluding to started as product or graphic designers. They have built on their core skill sets,learned from their collaborators and counterparts, and evolved into not only designing the artifact or the collateral, but also designing the brand, the experience, and the process…but being experts in the first gives them the credibility and the knowledge base to do the second.

I agree with what Tarngerine and Yo said, but I also know what you mean. It’s a problem for my Service Design students and it’s been a problem sometimes for me as an interaction/experience designer too. Wireframes aren’t all that sexy to show and the final work is usually a mix of people’s inputs. Pictures of walls plastered with Post-It notes are pretty dull and clichéd too.

But what is always inspiring are stories, particularly stories about people. If you’re working in one of the areas you mentioned, then the best way to show how your intervention as a designer made a difference is to tell a story. It doesn’t have to be loads of text, but just a few quotes and a short 2-4 image storyboard or diagram showing someone’s emotional/life/physical/customer journey. This can reveal a great deal about the success of your work.

If you want to show off the research side, then show off these stories you have uncovered too, show how you have revealed insights, unmet/unarticulated needs and moved those into the design process. Beware, though, of the ethical issues of posting or showing research that might have been done confidentially. Unless your research subjects have agreed to it, you’ll have to obscure faces and change names, etc.

@Tarngerine: You say "Research doesn’t have to be in text. It can be in visuals ", yet I’m still unable to find much examples of this in the portfolios Ive browsed thus far. I think there’s a tendency by designers to approach a portfolio with a “here is my final, nice, functional design piece” mindset. I’m trying to find the nitty-gritty preliminary stages being showcased instead (and I don’t just mean sketches). As a “design manager”, we should be aware of the justification, rationality, and feasibility of a design project at every single step (research, research, research, prototyping, iteration) so my struggle is how to communicate that visually. I wasn’t trying to oversimplify any particular design field, however, it’s pretty straightforward that a product designer will have a product design to show what they can do and how well. For design managers, it’s a bit more tricky (and often results in falling back on too much text, as was my case which is why I made this post).

@yo: That’s a good point, I would say the core skill sets in my program are not very core at all, it’s all over the place (I know a little of this, I can do a little of that…). This is another aspect I’m still trying to concretize with one semester to go.

@apolaine: (I’m on WENOVSKI too, cool!) That is useful info, and examples of such by other students/practitioners are what Im seeking.

Thanks everyone.



I would try and host your pdf on issuu or a similar website. Coroflot does not allow you to easily view pdfs. Most of the time it would be better to export individual pages or images of your portfolio if you want to put it on coroflot. That way we can click through to see everything.

I think the reason Yo gave you the “?” is because when you click your link all you see if the first page of your portfolio and unless you click the download PDF button (which is easy to miss) we don’t see the rest of it.

I would check out issuu and put it up on there. It’s much easier to use for PDFs

Disagree. A lot of people (myself and Yo included) dislike Issuu. Just put a regular PDF. Everyone has Adobe Reader anyway

just not on coroflot, because it won’t work, but there are many file sharing sites you can upload it to if you don’t have your own server. I upload them to blind pages on my website sometimes.