Briefing Beyond Documentation: An Interview Study on Industrial Design Consulting Practices in Finland

Seungho Park-Lee, Oscar Person

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Effective practices for briefing and sales represent a prime concern for design consultants in settling the scope of their work in projects. In order to understand this process, we undertook an inductive thematic analysis of interviews with, and documents collected from, 19 industrial design consultants in Finland. In analysing the ways in which the consultants go about settling briefs for new projects with clients, we unravel how briefing and sales are entwined in design consulting and how this impacts the practices of consultants. We found the entwinement between briefing and sales in design consulting produces a discontinuity in the briefing process subsequent to the commissioning of a project. Furthermore, the broader professional context of briefing and sales in design consulting involves uncertainties about the scope and outcome of design projects and the perceived readiness of clients to work with design. The consultants adapted their briefing practices to cope with and mitigate such challenges. We discerned three distinct types of adapted practices for briefing and sales—customised communication, codified conducts, and productised services—and go on to describe how the consultants used these practices to bridge uncertainties for clients and prevent challenges before projects are commissioned.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-91
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Design
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Briefing
  • Design Consulting
  • Design Practice
  • Design Process
  • Design Sales
  • Reflective Practice


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