Reductive Is Augmentative: How Reduced Information Enhances a Designer’s Imagination

Shiro Inoue, Neil Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Designers need to be equipped with the skills to manipulate incomplete information for their imaginations completeness. The previous studies revealed that, at the early stage of the design process where the designers explore and conceptualise ideas, the designers address indeterminate, uncertain or ambiguous nature of information within their idea generation process. Keeping the information less resolved assists designers’ imagination in increasing possibilities of ideas. If this incomplete nature of information plays an important role in the designers’ imagination, the authors consider whether this incompleteness can purposefully be manipulated in order to enhance a designer’s creative idea exploration. In this paper, the authors argue potential benefits of information incompleteness as stimuli, made possible by autonomous reduction, for designers’ creative imagination. This paper reports on a study conducted using a French Rococo clock made in eighteenth century as a prompt. The eight undergraduate industrial design students were asked to reduce/deconstruct the elements of the prompt working alone and to explore new design concepts simultaneously. The process where the participants reduced/deconstructed the information of the prompt, and the way in which they generated ideas within the process were thoroughly observed. Additionally, the participants were split into two groups and respectively given at two levels of fidelity; i) as a high-quality photographic image of an artefact, ii) as a dotted-line drawing of the same object. The analysis was conducted comparing the results derived from these two groups focusing on how the different levels of visual fidelity impacted on the reductive/ideation process. The results revealed the capability of the participants in addressing the proposed reductive process and creating the final design proposals. The results also showed that there is a significant difference between the two groups in their approaches. The group who were given the high-fidelity prompt developed a process scrutinising the attributes of the original object, in which they maintained the characteristics of the original object in their outcomes. On the other hand, the group who were given the limited-fidelity prompt developed a process of generating key concepts and/or questions, and the outcomes became more radical. This paper argues the potential values of incompleteness of information, proposing a reductive technique.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Psychology Research
EditorsAlexandra M. Columbus
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


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