The transformation from impression to expression: A model for visualising different viewpoints and goals in craft, art, design and company work.

Magnus Eneberg, Eva Wängelin

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceedingpeer-review


Design is often described as a profession where the result of the work is future
oriented. Herbert Simon defined it as work that aims at “changing existing
situations into preferred ones” . This may refer to a design process where the result
can be very unpredictable even if the goal is thoroughly outlined. David Pye has
portrayed this performance as “workmanship of risk” which differs from
“workmanship of certainty” which is production performed by industry. There is
limited knowledge regarding the design profession in manufacturing companies.
Descriptions of why and for what industry shall use designers cover a broad
spectrum of design competence, from an omnipotent saviour at the centre of
strategic product planning to someone who applies nice colours to objects at the
end of a production process.
Artists were the first group with specific creative competence that were employed
by industries to work with product design. For artists in industry, the social aspects
of their work — related to democracy, social equality and cultural education — were
important. Working in manufacturing industry gave them both economic security
and an arena in which to achieve idealistic objectives.
The shift to a professionalisation of design meant that the purpose of the work
changed. It also meant a shift in both the influences used to perform work and the
expressions illustrating the result. To understand the transference from an
impression to a visual component in a product, a time aspect can be added. In this
way it is possible to illustrate the variations as an effect of different working
processes, but above all as a result based on different aims. In this paper a model
is presented. Four professions — and four aspects of their working processes — are
compared: artisans, artists in industry, marketers and designers. In reality, the
professions consist of heterogeneous groups that themselves have disparate
strategies, goals and ways of working, but by simplifying and focusing the attention
on differences, it is possible to understand the respective outcomes of the working
processes. The aspects compared are: impression ¬— influences and the effects
due to references outside the individual; mark — external memory: common values
and interpretations from the surrounding culture; imprint — internal memory: the
effect of impression revised by the individual; expression — the way in which an
individual manifests his or her interpretation or point of view.
Is it the way we posit ourselves on a timescale in reference to input and goal that
causes variations in the design result? The model illustrates significant differences
between the professions, from the craftsman, who attends to traditions and the
surrounding culture, and aims at a contemporary product, to the designers’ way of
using both impressions from history, contemporary influences and internal
memories (bricolage), and aims at products for future use.
The model also illustrates the discrepancies between working processes in
marketing and design. Today many companies acknowledge the need to invest in
design proficiency, and accept a design process with a goal that is less
predetermined, even though profound knowledge of the possibilities and limitations
of the design profession is scarce. An increased comprehension of different work
processes and viewpoints can contribute to better understanding and a more fruitful
collaboration between stakeholders in the design process.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Event5th International conference ICDHS, Connecting - Helsingfors/Tallinn, Finland/Estonia, Estonia
Duration: 2006 Aug 23 → …


Conference5th International conference ICDHS, Connecting
Period2006/08/23 → …

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics


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