İstanbul Bilgi University
Designing involves making decisions that affect the living and non-living things of the world. It undertakes the responsibility of answering what to design, how, and why, and consequently, determines the lifecycle of artefacts. Designers are supposed to be aware of these responsibilities and evaluate the context and necessity of their designs by studying the footprint of their project in life, considering all related systems.
studioSUSTAIN design studio course, founded in 2017 in the industrial design department at Istanbul Bilgi University, is based on this approach with sustainability at the centre of the design process. Each semester the studio takes a particular locality as the context of design activity. Students are presented with real-life conditions and situations in the local context. They research, experience, and be part of the locality in field trips planned as design camps. They collaborate, work, and live together for a while with locals and stakeholders, participating in their routines, learning local practices and production cycles, and understanding the details and dynamics of local life. They study the tangible and intangible things and processes, in other words, the systems, in the locality.
Students are expected to think in terms of systems so that they can grasp and understand the local context with the complex social systems and the sociotechnical systems within. They use specific tools and methods for visualising their research on various aspects of the local systems. These tools and methods function both as means of making sense of the local information as well as of collaborating and communicating with locals and stakeholders. Students understand various parts of the local context in relation to sustainability topics. However, in comprehending existing local systems and in composing system designs, they have difficulty integrating and relating these parts and visualising them in system storyboards.
Presented here are the early stages of ongoing research on a proposal for a framework for structuring and visualising systems and system designs. It is suggested that complex social systems or sociotechnical systems can be defined as stories, and their complexity can be grasped and communicated by visualising these system stories in established forms of visual narratives, namely comics and film storyboards. Stories and visual narratives would constitute both a common ground for a mutual understanding of systems as well as for designers to compose and develop system designs through collaboration with stakeholders. The proposal is accompanied by a selection of system storyboards by students of five semesters of studioSUSTAIN.
KEYWORDS: design education, sustainability, system design, system visualisation, story, narrative, comics and storyboard