Artful surfaces : an ethnographic study exploring the use of space in design studios

Vyas, Dhaval & Nijholt, Anton (2012) Artful surfaces : an ethnographic study exploring the use of space in design studios. Digital Creativity, 23(3-4), pp. 176-195.

View at publisher


A largely overlooked aspect of creative design practices is how physical space in design studios plays a role in supporting designers' everyday work. In particular, studio surfaces such as designers' desks, office walls, notice boards, clipboards and drawing boards are full of informative, inspirational and creative artefacts such as, sketches, drawings, posters, story-boards and Post-it notes. Studio surfaces are not just the carriers of information but importantly they are sites of methodic design practices, i.e. they indicate, to an extent, how design is being carried out. This article describes the results of an ethnographic study on the use of workplace surfaces in design studios, from two academic design departments. Using the field study results, the article introduces an idea of ‘artful surfaces’. Artful surfaces emphasise how artfully designers integrate these surfaces into their everyday work and how the organisation of these surfaces comes about helping designers in accomplishing their creative and innovative design practices. Using examples from the field study, the article shows that artful surfaces have both functional and inspirational characteristics. From the field study, three types of artful surfaces are identified: personal; shared; and project-specific. The article suggests that a greater insight into how these artful surfaces are created and used could lead to better design of novel display technologies to support designers' everyday work.

Impact and interest:

1 citations in Scopus
Search Google Scholar™
1 citations in Web of Science®

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

38 since deposited on 27 Mar 2014
15 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 69396
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Ethnography, Design studio culture, Artefacts, Space, Design
DOI: 10.1080/14626268.2012.658522
ISSN: 1462-6268
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Taylor & Francis
Deposited On: 27 Mar 2014 07:44
Last Modified: 09 May 2014 22:50

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page