Friday, July 20, 2007

Counting Creativity: Routine, Regulation and Evaluation in Design

How do you measure creativity in design? This is the question being tackled by Guy Julier (Leeds Met, design historian) and Liz Moor (Middlesex, sociology/cultural studies) in a AHRC-funded research project which will result in a book to be published next year. At an intimate gathering in Leeds last week, many of the contributors presented their responses to this question in papers that considered fields as diverse as graphic design, advertising, public art, museum exhibition design, cinema production design and - a new area on the UK government agenda - the design of children's play spaces. A recurring theme was the extent to which designers, design managers and clients are increasingly required to account for the value that designers create, while there continues to be a mystery about what designers do, and how, and where their 'creativity' lies. Designers and artists working on publicly-funded projects in particular have to provide accounts of how they are 'adding value' in ways that inherit the most reductive thinking of some management practices. Designers at the agency where contributor Annemarie Ennis works have to record in detail their daily activities in a similar way to lawyers, accountants and management consultants. But her desription of how this data is gathered, amended and used illustrates how such regulation leads to fictionalized evaluation.

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