About storienteering

Storienteering is a term that has been coined to focus design storytellers on the importance and function of narrative resources that support orienting activities in storytelling. The approach is supported by a loose collection of game-like activities that help designers choose and coordinate resources, begin to author stories, craft them, challenge them and evaluate and express them in a range of media.

Storienteering is underpinned by research being conducted at Northumbria University’s School of Design.

The aim of this site is to bridge the gap between design research and design practice by delivering research findings directly into the hands of design practitioners. The research is being conducted in fulfilment of a PhD at Northumbria University’s faculty of Design. It concerns itself with design storytelling through supportive resources. On this site you will find a number of resources that have been created in order to orient designers during some of the more challenging moments of storytelling. The approach is called storienteering.

Design moments

Some ‘moments’ in design storytelling are poorly underpinned by research, published methods or tools. These moments are, it seems, so governed by local conditions that they defy being generalized in any formal way. Designers must rely on their intuition, imagination and experience to make either a judgement call based on best options or a move that rather than following a rational line of thought involves a ‘leap’ from one position to another. These moments occur during phases of activity. Some of the most significant ‘moments’ occur between activities.

Some of the challenging phases in design storytelling that are being addressed as part of this work include:

  1. spinning (creation),
  2. transcribing (translation),
  3. breakdown (analysis),
  4. crafting (rendering), and
  5. presentation (communicating).

Each phase presents a distinct challenge. What is being proposed as a way to support design teams in the challenging moments that occur in these phases are resources specifically created to supplement existing approaches. Designed resources are lite, simple, raw and flexible enough to be configured to fit local requirements. Designed resources fulfil functions in design work that are distinct from, yet complementary to, the functions of methods and tools.

A number of studies have been conducted to evaluate the resources in different practice-based settings. The last formal study was conducted as a design fiction workshop at Northumbria University on August 22, 2013. Imaging Futures for Research with Design Fictions brought six participants and three researchers together to develop a fictional future world where technology and digital media play an increasingly important role in society. The outcome of the study is a narrative about an imagined technology called VIVIEN that captures all the salient ideas discussed during the workshop.

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