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Why Design Needs A Narrative: The Power of Storytelling

The power of storytelling is integral to all creative pursuits and never, in our identity crisis post-digital age, has the need for storytelling been more central to the world of A+D. But how exactly can the concept of the design narrative be used effectively, and why is it so important?

A+D is a creative pursuit; it seeks to improve and to empower the end-user and the community at large. Central to this is the pursuit to develop and support the identities of stakeholder groups: to represent through design their tightly-held values, and to support their identities’ growth into purpose driven results.

So, what makes a design influential and innovative? Current trends show a strong focus on the human-centered and narrative-driven element of the design. Recently, design has been all about human-centered-theory, extending modes of design from purely aesthetics to a means of productive and peaceful living. But, where does the concept of the narrative come in? By using storytelling, designers are able to make abstract concepts more concrete. Through appealing to the inherently emotive side of the end-user, the deployment of narrative techniques into the design process re-entrenches the object of design into an affective space. It speaks, that is, to the value system of the community for which it is intended, bolstering the needs and identities of that of the stakeholder group.

What is the value of ‘meaningful narratives’ in design culture, and why they are vital in communicating a regional design language?

Take the new Perth Stadium and Sports Precinct, designed by the teams at Cox Architecture, Hassell, HKS and Arup. The 60,000-seat venue, as Ron Alexander (Director General: Department of Sports and Recreation and joint Chairman of Perth Stadium Steering Committee) points out, “has the fan at the forefront”, representing one of the most inclusive and democratic examples of public architecture in Australia today featuring: wheelchair positions on all levels, over 70 universal accessible toilets plus changing amenities, 9 times more permanent ACROD bays than required by the 2013 National Construction Code and 360-degree circulation on general admission levels. Not only has the stadium’s design allowed for greater access for minorities, it also represents an equally impressive step forward for the Indigenous community. The connecting Community Arbour incorporates seating, flora, lighting and public art all inspired by traditional Indigenous stories. Furthering this, the surrounding landscape design around the Precinct and Stadium is devised along the principle of following the six Indigenous seasons.

While it is obvious that the Perth Stadium represents a big step forward in accessibility and empowering the disabled minority in our community, it also represents an equally impressive step forward for our Indigenous community. Framed by the surrounding Sports Precinct, the connecting Community Arbour incorporates seating, flora, lighting and public art all inspired by traditional Indigenous stories. Further, the surrounding landscape design around the Precinct and Stadium is devised along the principle of following the six Indigenous seasons. Mr Alexander says that “[p]ublic art will be incorporated across the Stadium and Sports Precinct to enhance the visual appeal of the area, celebrating West Australian sporting and cultural achievements whilst assisting with orientation and wayfinding for visitors”.

This is a sports arena quite unlike any we can boast nation-wide. Celebrating our cultural histories, our Indigenous history, and our arts and cultural scene alongside our sporting prowess, the plans express with decided empathy our desire to integrate while still celebrating diversity: in our community, in our collective pastimes.

By specifying a particular narrative and a selection of personas, designers were more readily able to develop with purpose and goal-driven intent. It is this form of narrative-based design that is explored in just that, the design process, allowing for product redevelopments and updates that align with the user. By appealing, understanding and expressing those internal narratives we are able to position A+D as a socio-cultural service that harbours the potential to elevate those communities who are chronically marginalized. By developing a consistent narrative that can be shared amongst A+D designers, it ensures a common understanding between all workers, whether it is within the marketing, development or the creative team – everyone shares the same vision. By using storytelling within the design process specifically, designers never lose sight of their final product and get caught up in the smaller details, allowing for a more cohesive and value-driven design that is guaranteed to impress.

Interface prides itself on its human-based design focus, creating innovative and imaginative products that empower their customers. Interface is proud to announce that they will be presenting the 2017 Influencer INDE.Award. The Influencer award celebrates a project, product, person or a studio that expresses the “harmonious realisation of form and function, as well as manufacturing techniques, materiality and regional accessibility”, whilst serving as a “shining example of the region’s experimental and rebellious approach to architecture and design.” In layman’s’ terms, the Influencer is a true example of what innovative and creative design can do to not only improve the designer’s local region but the world at large.


Interface is proud to present the Influencer INDE.Award for 2017. Who will be your 2017 global Influencer?

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