The art of ‘stepping back’: Studying levels of abstraction in a diverse design team

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Journal Article
Design Studies, 2016, 46 pp. 79 - 94
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© 2016 Elsevier Ltd A review of literature that examines how expert designers move from very concrete adoptions/amalgamations of obvious existing concepts towards highly abstract shifts to new paradigms of solutions. In this paper we investigated IF and HOW a mixed group of undergraduate and Post-graduate students from diverse backgrounds could demonstrate a similar capacity to collectively display such a movement between levels of abstraction. Essentially, the design team drew from their experiential knowledge, not moving far beyond the combinatorial solution propositions that would characterise a novice designer. More detailed research into the abstraction behaviour of novice and expert designers should inform the creation of methods and tools to assist multidisciplinary teams in moving through various levels of abstraction during the design process.
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