Design Brief Competitions

Collaborator:  RSA (Royal Society of Arts) Student Design Awards Team

The Royal Society of Arts runs the pre-eminent design competition for student designers in the UK, and increasingly internationally.  Their design brief competitions bring together the organisations and companies in Britain who need design thinking, with up and coming student designers, through setting out relevant design challenges.  This project addressed some of the challenges involved in international design briefs, through thinking through in cultural terms what design briefs are, what they do, and how they are presented in different circumstances.

We focussed in our work on how design briefs happen in different countries.  What do designers in different country think needs to be included in briefs?  What is more or less important?  How are design briefs presented?  What are the aims and ways of assessing design briefs in different areas of design, sectors and enterprises?


We interviewed designers in the UK, China, and Taiwan, based in different areas of design.  Taking what they thought was important in a brief, we evaluated key characteristics of design briefs using a visual heuristic, and contrasted how design briefs are presented for our different comp2

Design Briefs in different countries are profoundly different in terms of content, aesthetics, modes of access and motivation in taking part.  Through cross-cultural comparison, it is possible to reflect on the range of ways in which a design brief can be presented and accessed.  By placing emphasis on different aspects of the brief, one can adapt it to different audiences and even help individual designers to personalise their experience of the design and the kinds of critical thinking they bring to it.

Building on these findings, we proposed new possibilities for the presentation of the student competition briefs, adapting and changing for a global design landscape.

Work conducted by:  Billy (Yu-cheng) Chang, Miffy (Xiaoyue) Yang, Phoebe (Siyu) Chu, Michael Groves

Contact @ RSA:  Sevra Davies

Summer 2013

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