Design, by Process and by End Product is highly subjective in nature and that is what makes it interesting. At Aayojan School of Architecture, Jaipur, the faculty has been discussing and formulating the ways in which the “Process”, in addition to the End Product can also be documented. It is comparatively very easy to document the End product, but process, can be confusing and difficult to document. Before, I myself set to start talking about how can design process be documented, it is essential to know, whether it shall be documented at all? Is there a need for such an exercise? How is it going to help anyway, the students and faculty? And, who shall do it? Students? Or teachers? Or both?

I am restricting my thoughts to academics and architecture to have a better focus.

Every exercise has three essential components, described below:

1. A brief:

Generally this is set after some initial inputs by teacher. The brief, summarily explains what is expected from students as an output and in what format. If the brief is well laid, written and explained, it will be easier for students to go to the next step. Ideally, it shall also be easy for students to break the brief into smaller components and address the problem or exercise in bits and pieces .

2. The Process (itself):

Of reaching a creative, innovative, logical and acceptable output. Which sees various iterations, changes, developments, criticism and at time, rejections. Again, even if the brief may be same for all 40 or more students in a class, the output in all cases is different. Because the process followed by each student is / may be different. The process enables the teacher or guide to understand the abilities, strengths, weaknesses, background, past experiences and way of thinking of the student/s. A process in itself is very complex, a phase which influences the end product. As said, the process is an individual experience of a student and will tell a unique story about student’s thinking, background, influences, strengths, weaknesses and more, so teachers have a great responsibility to address each student individually.

3. The End Product:

This is where we expect the students to stop or freeze the design, or stop thinking about exercise. End product is very easy to assess. It talks about the “entire story” on couple of sheets, in a compressed format. But, it may not tell the examiner or teacher, how the student has reached this conclusion. Which in my view is the very crux of design education. Whether it was his/her background? Some past experiences? Or influences from teacher / guide? or some thing else?

And, so, it is must that some emphasis should also be given to documenting the process in design education and it shall become the part of assessment with  the End Product.

How?, We move onto next step (hope you agree to the above statements, if not, feel free to drop a comment and keep it open for discussions..), that is in what way the process shall be documented.

In my view there is no such specific way or formula, but the teachers can themselves derive the format from their experiences. Just to make it easier, I would like to even talk about the format.

The process is very individual to the students and each exercise (I know I am repeating myself), so it will be logical to have a format  which let’s you describe the student (not only name, if possible) and exercise, both. Each process is a set of milestones, so it is must that development of student and exercise, both are recorded, in the form of pictures, sketches, notes or illustrations in the format at each stage. Yes, each stage. Even if students may not have produced anything worth discussing, it shall be recorded.

At each stage, if the teachers are giving an input, the same shall also be recorded. As, the output from the student will not only depend on what input was given but also how it was delivered.

Statistics, numbers talk a lot. The format, shall allow the mentor or other teachers to judge the student’s performance at each stage and performance, also as compared to the whole lot of students (it may sound incorrect, but, at the end, every student is compared with the lot in the class. Blame the education system for that).

At the end, the format talks about student, exercise, brief, input/s at every stage, output at every stage, development (even if it isn’t there really) and some numbers. The format will also allow teachers to look into various ways in which the ‘input’ / lectures could be made interesting and innovative, to improve upon the overall performance of the class. At the end, that is the objective. No?

On who shall do it, I would say students and teachers, both shall be encouraged to maintain a log book where development at each stage is recorded.

Conclusion, the end product may look interesting, uninteresting, innovative, different, usual or exciting, whatever, but the path (process) that lead to the end product should tell one a correct and true story behind the end product.