I was in Cambridge again yesterday to deliver the second workshop in a new cycle of material on conceptual design for the Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment Masters programme.

This cycle of teaching starts with the unpicking what is a design brief. I called it things to think and feel about a design brief because there are skills we need to understand a brief, but it is helpful to question our whole attitude towards what a design brief is.

A brief can sound like something that is fixed. But I see it more as a signal of intent. Design is a journey of discovery. If it doesn’t involve discovery, it isn’t design. And so, like with any exploratory journey, we can have an intent for setting off, but what we find on the way can and should inform the direction of travel.

In this workshop we discuss the Designer’s Paradox and the 5 Elements of a Brief, and then we delve into how we can use the brief to test the quality of our ideas. And, critically, how to do it quickly – not with the benefit of multi-dimensional analysis, but with sufficient confident to admit an idea into the domain of the possible.