Activity: External talk or presentation › Invited talk
While when we think about language we often think mostly of speaking, it is listening which is central to conversation. Where we do not listen there can be no conversation but only two or more monologues. Indeed, it is listening that is the creative part of conversation: when we speak, we mostly already know what we are going to say, whereas when we listen we create new understandings for ourselves of what the speaker means.
One way of characterising what designers do is as a conversation that they hold with themselves and with the situation in which they work (e.g. Glanville, Schön). This is in part through literal conversations with others but also via various media such as drawings and models. This is especially evident in sketching, where designers continually shift roles between drawing and reinterpreting what they have drawn in a way that reflects the shift between speaking and listening in conversation. While we often emphasise the making of marks in drawing, the analogy with conversation suggests that how we reinterpret (or listen to) them is what makes design conversations creative: it is here where we create new possibilities rather than represent existing ones. In this paper I explore how thinking of drawing in terms of conversation and listening in this way can inform how we create and explore ideas in design and how this differs from understanding drawings in terms of representation.