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Improvisation Design

the spices to secret theme


Existing research addresses how designers create tools to support improvisation, yet little research explores how improvisation offers tools to support design work. This paper explores the potential relationship between improvisation and design, examining how design can benefit from improvisation. The paper argues that improvisation can build perspectives and skills that are critical for designers, such as creative collaboration, fostering innovation, supporting spontaneity, learning through error, and presenting ideas. The paper reviews the use of improvisation activities by designers in a multi-case study. The applications are analyzed to demonstrate individual and group level outcomes in design work.

Improvisation is broad term referring to the process of devising an atypical method of solving a problem due to lack of time or resources. In a technical context, this can mean adapting a device for some use other than that which it was designed for, or building a device from unusual components in an ad-hoc fashion. Improvisation, within the context of performing arts, is a very spontaneous performance without specific or scripted preparation. The skills of improvisation can apply to many different faculties, across all artistic, scientific, physical, cognitive, academic, and non-academic disciplines.

Musical improvisation is usually defined as the composition of music while simultaneously singing or playing an instrument. Improvisational comedy is a theatre art performed throughout the world and has had on-again, off-again status throughout history. Dance improvisation is frequently used as a choreographic tool. Choreography is also frequently used as a tool for improvisation.

Improvisation also exists outside the arts. Improvisation in engineering is to solve a problem with the tools and materials immediately at hand. Improvised weapons are often used by guerrillas, insurgents and criminals.


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