June 24, 2008

For immediate distribution


The ‘Design Dashboard’ was launched today, which is a physical manifestation of a design theory and the first of a series that the Institute Without Boundaries, a design think tank, is working to build. Created to negotiate complex real-world projects, the Dashboard is both a theoretical framework and a practical tool for the creation of design.

Once theory is made physical, people can interact with it and make more use of it. The Dashboard makes this possible. By choosing the relationship with the client, setting the form of design and its impact, the Dashboard allows designers to quickly manipulate and transform designs in a very conscious yet creative way.

It is available in three different formats: a ‘clickable’ digital version, a paper worksheet and an analog version in plastic, all available from the website (

Created by two students from the Institute Without Boundaries, the website is packed with features and downloads. These include a Flash demo of the digital version, STL code so that people can print the analog version on a 3D prototyping machine, and an extensive and often amusing user guide that explains the Dashboard in detail.

A major feature of the Dashboard is the Involvement Slider that allows the designer and client to set different levels of interaction. Running from DIY to Prescribed, the Slider enables designers to create design processes that better meet the needs of their clients and account for increasing demand for co-creation. In addition, by mapping the forms of design, the Dashboard works as a hyperdrive for creativity as designers can quickly jump across different forms of design or combine them to create powerful coalitions of ideas.

“We believe that the Dashboard is a significant contribution to the field” said Mark Watson, one of the students behind the project. “It will help designers negotiate complex problems and gives everyone a better understanding of the potential for design. As such, it’s as much at home in the boardroom as on the drafting board. We’ve already used it to great effect for a major Institute Without Boundaries project that looked at rural renewal in Costa Rica. Once you get the hang of it, the possibilities are endless.”

The Design Dashboard was created at the Institute Without Boundaries in 2008. It was used to navigate a multifaceted project commissioned by the Government of Costa Rica. Asked to create models for the development of sustainable communities in the rapidly developing province of Guanacaste, the Dashboard provided a framework to address multiple clients and different levels of interaction, while demonstrating sensitivity to local cultures and communities. It is now being released to help designers (and others) tackle complex problems around the world.

About the Authors
Mark Stevens is a writer, designer and researcher. In his professional career, he has worked across communications disciplines and has developed projects with, amongst others, IDEO, Interbrand and McCann Advertising.

Mark Watson is a researcher, designer and writer. Trained in computer science, he has worked in research labs across Canada, primarily in interaction design, human-computer interaction and algorithms.

About the Institute Without Boundaries
The Institute Without Boundaries was founded in 2003 by the School of Design at George Brown College, Toronto. It is a graduate program that emphasizes collaborative design in a studio environment. Each year a small group of students are selected to work together on real problems with real clients. With diverse backgrounds in design, the arts, science and business, they collaborate to research, design and realize social and environmental projects.

The Institute was launched as part of the Massive Change initiative. Developed with
Bruce Mau Design, Massive Change explored design’s potential to affect positive change globally. The project became a highly successful exhibition and bestselling book.


Mark Watson, Institute Without Boundaries student

Mark Stevens, Institute Without Boundaries student

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