Design Briefs: Is there a Standard?
Editor: Lyndon Buck, Geert Frateur, William Ion, Chris McMahon, Chris Baelus, Guido De Grande, Stijn Verwulgen
Author: Wyn M. Jones, Hedda Haugen Askland
Institution: The University of Newcastle, Australia
Section: Design Methods - Theory and Methodology
The brief is an essential part of the design process and marks the beginning of any design project, both within the realms of education and practice. It is used to help the designer to understand the problem by defining the objectives and parameters of the project toward generating the most appropriate solution. It also has reflective, administrative and legal purposes within a design project, making it a critical document to the design throughout the task. A brief can be as little as a single line of text to a series of pages with detailed information and specific constraints. It can be generated by the designer, by the client or as a shared and agreed document between both parties. At the end of a project, the client will refer to the brief to measure the success of the project and consequently the ability of the designer to produce an appropriate solution. This will, in turn, equate to a return-on-investment consideration and the value of the designer for future projects. Although the brief is so central to a project and its resulting actions, initial research shows that there is little common guidance on how to write and structure such a vital document.
This paper reports on the initial stage of a study that investigates the formality and authorship of design briefs, specifically in the discipline of industrial design. Through a review of existing scholarship on the topic and examples of design projects it considers the role of the design brief. It also discusses the possibility of a common structure and its implications as a generic template to be used as a standard project document.