Previous Next

Amazing: a design competition with a real brief!!

September 10, 2009

Most of the time creative competitions follow the typical blue sky approach to issuing a challenge; they don’t tend to define parameters or any kind of real brief.

Creatives then have the huge task of narrowing their thinking down to something meaningful and strategic. You see this a lot with students with their challenges and projects, even at places that supposedly teach planning; the two disciplines sit at opposite end of the table and the strategists often have to force their way into the conversation.

Quite simply, a brief is not mandated and neither and the the creative work is rarely accountable.

Refreshingly, Steve Portigal, the king of design strategy, has made a move in the right direction.

Teaming up with Core 77 and 826 Valencia he’s contributed a ton of research thinking to the challenge of imagining The Future of Reading. It’s not simply a data dump, they’ve translated their findings into something close to a real brief with lots of juicy information to feast on.


What will reading look in the future? Will we be using printed books,
rectangular electronic devices, embedded technologies?This competition
challenges designers to envision a rich future digital reading
experience, based on a defined set of design research.

Recently, Portigal Consulting undertook an exploratory research project on reading, books, and digital reading devices, entitled Reading Ahead. Here’s what they found:

  • Books are more than just pages with words and pictures; they are
    imbued with personal history, future aspirations, and signifiers of
  • The unabridged reading experience includes crucial events that take
    place before and after the elemental moments of eyes-looking-at-words
  • Digital reading privileges access to content while neglecting other essential aspects of this complete reading experience
  • There are opportunities to enhance digital reading by replicating,
    referencing, and replacing social (and other) aspects of traditional
    book reading

And here’s what they suggest for your design explorations:

  • Include the sensual
  • Support the social side of reading
  • Consider the varied modes and rituals of reading
  • Develop an ecosystem

More info can be found here.

Posted by Ed Cotton

Related Articles

Influx interview-designer series- steve portigal- design thinker
Steve Portigal runs Portigal Consulting, a...
Inspiring gems- thoughtless acts-design in the real world
Jane Fulton Suri leads human factors and research...
Influx interview-design series- stiven kerestegian- sustainable designer
Stiven Kerestegian is a sustainable designer who...
If you are going to make anything, make a real conversation
John Thackara was as provocative as ever in his...