Ideation and specification: drawing for creativity and control

Pamela Schenk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper was developed from a presentation originally given at the Drawing Research Network Conference, Loughborough, 2012, when the author was invited to submit a paper for the special edition of the on-line journal TRACEY, focussed on the conference theme, of Drawing Knowledge. Based on a new targeted investigation forming the latest stage of a long-term study to investigate the role of drawing in design, the paper focuses on the role of drawing, primarily paper-based drawing, both at the beginning and at the end of the design process. Research throughout the long-term study included interviews with several hundred respondents, the extensive observation of studio practice and the in-depth analysis of designer’s drawings. By exploring the different ways in which experienced professional designers employ drawing to support creative thinking for ideation and to maintain control over their designs into the production or manufacturing stages through specification, it has been possible to identify and observe very different uses of drawing and to identify crucial aspects of designers’ drawing knowledge. Moreover, by comparing the drawing practices of textile and visual communication designers, it has been possible to identify and observe very different uses of paper-based drawing, and to reach conclusions about their continuing relevance in today’s digital design studios. While none of the designers in the investigation underestimated the advantages brought about by digital technology to the design profession, they nevertheless expressed concern about the lack of development of drawing competency in student designers due to an early adoption of this technology to the exclusion of traditional drawing methods. Therefore, it can be seen as crucial that academics are able to respond to what has been a sustained period of change in design and manufacture, and are able to take stock of the enduring advantages that traditional drawing methods may still provide.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
VolumeDrawing Knowledge
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • Drawing in the design process
  • design education
  • communication through drawing
  • ideation and specification


Dive into the research topics of 'Ideation and specification: drawing for creativity and control'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this