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Engineering narratives

Engineering narratives

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDS 43: Proceedings of E and PDE 2007, the 9th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education
EditorsE. Bohemia, K. Hilton, C. McMahon, A. Clarke
PublisherThe Design Society
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2007
EventThe 9th Engineering and Product Design Education International Conference 2007 - Newcastle, United Kingdom


ConferenceThe 9th Engineering and Product Design Education International Conference 2007
Abbreviated titleE&PDE 2007
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


How might we engineer narrative strategies within design education to enable future change? Using language effectively, particularly within the contexts of narrative storytelling, is a critical tool to aid design thinking. Narrative theory affects design, architecture, art, management, cognitive psychology, computing, and the games industry, and rarely engineering. Narrative may be dominated by design disciplines valuing the visual data driven output over narrative thinking. Barthes refers to this visual dependency as the tyranny of the visual, and, we could add, the tyranny of data driven design. Narrative thinking may be constrained by academic writing, or confined by technical terminology native to that discipline. Whilst images may pretend to project a reality, Forty reminds us that language is about keeping that reality at bay, or as Saussure describes, in language there is only difference. This paper describes three narrative strategies involving the disciplines of Architecture, English and Interior & Environmental Design in Scotland, USA and Netherlands. The workshops explore narrative making, and the link between image and object; virtual & cultural narratives, simulating client designer relationships, and ekphrastic narratives, exploring the interrelationships between the poetic and the spatial. The authors speculate on the transferable potential to engineering, product and non visual educators, and particularly how narrative strategies could transform disciplines, improve client engagement and impact upon international academic exchange.


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