The Value of Stimulated Dissatisfaction

Nick Spencer, Kevin Hilton

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


“I’m not saying it’s a good quality to have, but my observation is that good designers are never happy, they’re never satisfied, never content” (Adrian Stokes, quoted in Spencer, 2008, p. 145). It seems self-evident that designers, whose raison d’être is to initiate change in man-made things (Jones, 1970), devising courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones (Simon, 1969), will be dissatisfied, at some level, with the way they experience the material world. However, recent research (Spencer, 2008) suggests that expert designers deliberately enhance the pressure and stress of the design situation – stimulating dissatisfaction. By stimulating the experience of dissatisfaction their imaginative and investigative action is given urgency, focus and purpose as they pursue excellence and attempt to unfold from their own view of the world to empathise with a broad project community. This discursive paper highlights the need for a developed understanding of the reflective practitioner model to inform the post-rationalist generation of design methods. This paper: reviews critical literature about the experience of designing; discusses the role of dissatisfaction within the practise of design; and presents a research project that aims to evaluate the value of stimulated dissatisfaction for the purpose of supporting practitioners’ empathic appreciation in early design direction generation. This paper argues that the reflective practitioner model of the designer must address the stimulation of dissatisfaction as a condition of creative and explorative design practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventDesign Research Society International Conference - Montréal, Canada
Duration: 1 Jul 2010 → …


ConferenceDesign Research Society International Conference
Period1/07/10 → …


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