Design Representation

Representation in design has at least two functions – one, to capture a design idea or multiple ideas as part of the design process for the designer(s) or others and two, to represent the finished design as a communication to others. The first is critical to the development of the design and the second has its emphasis on communication to users and clients. Because design is usually about creating something new, most design representation is often about creating a view of the future. How this is done can take on different styles – for example, it can be done using more realistic or abstract language of representation.

Some points to consider for good design representation:

  1. Clearly depict idea/environment intended to be conveyed
  2. Create believable representation that is open enough to suggest potential development, especially for design projects in progress
  3. Use techniques and ‘feel’ that combine analog and digital language to communicate that environment

Two kinds of works have come to my attention recently. Representing Landscapes: A Visual Collection of Landscape Architecture Drawings (edited by Nadia Amoroso, Routledge, 2012) showcases excellent examples of different drawing styles and techniques from work generated in over twenty international academic institutions.

The work of conceptual artists such as Ralph McQuarrie’s for the original Star Wars that depict imaginary environments are also exemplars of representation. McQuarrie’s work was core to the model and set design that informed the movies. Noah Bradley is more contemporary artist whose environmental concept art and illustration that evolves from a painterly way of depicting environments to creating virtual landscapes that have become very popular to the imaginary environments such as those in the popular trading card game (20 million players reported on Wikipedia) of Magic The Gathering.

 

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