Tensions Facilitating Codesign in Graphic Design: Working with Asthma Educators in Australia
Simone Taffe


This paper presents a real-world case study, aiming to trial codesign in graphic design. Four designers and twelve asthma educators codesigned an approach to organizing asthma information in a series of codesign workshops. The findings, drawn from four toolkits trialed in the workshops, show underlying client assumptions were challenged. Grouping asthma sufferers, according to their emotional responses to asthma was a new approach for the client, who previously organized asthma information by age, gender and asthma triggers. This outcome is noteworthy as it challenges the designer’s role as intuitive problem solver, highlighting the value of codesign processes to make visible appropriate project outcomes rather than working in a vacuum, without end-user insights. Six reflections are presented for designers to keep in mind when engaging with codesign processes: keep toolkits unpolished; play games to dissolve tensions; share ownership of the final design concept; design for emotional demographic categories; focus on relevant design concepts; and be flexible with time and cost. The conclusion challenges the expert, intuitive role of graphic designers, arguing taking the time to codesign allows discovery of important project insights, outweighing the tensions graphic designers face when sharing creativity with non-designers.

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