How Does Storytelling Unlock the Potentialities of Communities; The Design-Client Relationship

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


When looking at research that explores approaches to designing, it is apparent that some people believe adopting a storytelling perspective can be fruitful in garnering new knowledge. This paper adopts a storytelling perspective when analysing design pitches, with the intent of understanding how an approach to storytelling can unlock potentialities in the audience. More specifically, these potentialities include: an appreciation of the concept’s value; an ability to discuss a concept critically; and to be able to think more holistically around the concept territory. This context is particularly important in understanding the relationship between designer and client.

To devise a theoretical framework to illustrate the relationship between storytelling approach and these potentialities, twenty-five design pitches were observed and semi-structured interviews were conducted with their audiences. This paper focuses on a design pitch delivered by designers from Northumbria University to employees of The Traffic Penalty Tribunal, presenting a concept for a new parking appeals service. This example acts as a tool for illustrating the findings communicated in the theoretical framework devised after the analysis of the interviews.

It is proposed that acknowledging a user’s perspective and cultural beliefs, being diverse and different, detailing concept development, and using imagery (in particular analogy), are all approaches to storytelling that can play a role in unlocking the potentialities highlighted. However, it is important to state that the framework serves as a tool to encourage the consideration of the impact on the client when approaching storytelling at the design pitch. It is not claiming that taking one of the approaches mentioned would guarantee the unlocking of a related potentiality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPearl Diver: The Designer as Storyteller
EditorsElisa Bertolotti, Heather Daam, Francesca Piredda, Virginia Tassinari
Place of PublicationMilano, Italy
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


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