Meeting the Complex and Unfamiliar: Lessons from Design in the Offshore Industry
Sigrun Lurås, Margareta Lützhöft, Birger Sevaldson


Designers increasingly find themselves working in unfamiliar fields with high levels of complexity. One such field is the offshore industry. Through qualitative research interviews with eight industrial and interaction designers, we have investigated how designers experience designing for the Norwegian offshore industry, identified the challenges designers face, and examined strategies used for meeting the challenges they experience. The study shows that offshore-specific design projects are found to be complex at many levels, and the designers interviewed described a number of challenges that make it difficult to gain the insight needed to develop adequate designs. They employ different strategies for coping with these challenges. Systemic approaches, which have proven valuable when designing for other complex issues, are used to differing degrees by the designers interviewed. We propose that systemic approaches could help designers in this field get a better understanding of both the system they design for and the system they design within.

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