4pm - 5pm

Friday 10 June 2022

Sketching Fast and Slow: Cognition, Heuristics, and the Challenge of Intuitive Workflows

CVSSP External Seminar by Kevin Henry, Columbia College Chicago


CVSSP Seminar Room
University of Surrey
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  • Kevin Henry, Columbia College Chicago

Sketching Fast and Slow: Cognition, Heuristics, and the Challenge of Intuitive Workflows

Henry, Kevin


Sketching, according to cognitive scientists, is an ‘offloading process’ intended to alleviate the natural limitations of working memory. Designers sketch to ‘materialize’ ideas before they escape the imagination. In order to do this without exhausting the cognitive resources available for design decision-making, it’s important to mechanize the sketching process as much as possible. One of the biggest challenges in that process is the result of limitations in representing 3D data on a 2D substrate. The rule-bound methods of perspective, however, operate as a kind of algorithm that makes such limitations manageable when treated with ‘rules-of-thumb-approaches’ also known as heuristics. In Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow, the author explores the history of heuristics, it’s connection to the Archemedian myth of the ‘Eureka moment’, and the natural cognitive tendency to switch back-and-forth between system 1 and system 2 thinking (fast and slow thinking) as we master and codify routine activities.

In this presentation, I will use part of Kahneman’s framework of ‘fast and slow’ thinking to explore the power of heuristic-based approaches to lessen the cognitive load required to do design work and why that is so critical to design work. I will also explore other types of low-fidelity sketching and their immediate benefits and relationship to higher-fidelity approaches. In the presentation I will review some of the mechanics of vision, some theories of categorization, the role of image schemas on visualization, and the neural foundation of ‘grids’ and ‘places’ in our brains and their potential role in sketching. I will end with a brief exploration of sketching in VR and 3D sketching on a tablet.

Short bio:

Kevin Henry is an associate professor of design at Columbia College Chicago. He has an undergraduate degree in visual arts (sculpture), a Masters Degree in time-based media and a second Masters Degree in industrial design. He is the author of Drawing for Product Designers and the online Linked-in Learning course Sketching for Product Design. He is currently finishing the 2nd edition of the book and hopes to start working on a new online course for Linked-in Learning called: Sketching Fast and Slow.

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