MA Narrative Environments


A series of students are standing and sitting discussing a project with a tutor. The tutor has their back to the camera. Around the people are various wooden objects, posters and pin boards with further images and text on them.

These are the steps we take in the narrative design process

1. The brief

  • Negotiate the brief with the client or write your own brief

2. Research 

  • What are the features of the┬áplace?
  • What is history and future of the place?
  • Who are the users, what are the vested interests?
  • What are the dramatic conflicts?
  • Answering these questions will give you insights

3. Use insights to develop a design direction

  • Analyse and interpret the insights to develop a design direction – a few words or a phrase.

4. Interpret the design direction into visual form

  • Interpret that design direction by using metaphor- translate the words into materials, light, forms, space, image and sound.
  • Expand the metaphor into a story and create the story world, the actors, the events, conflicts and resolutions, stories nested inside others. Ask what happens next?
  • Ask yourself who is speaking? What is the tone of voice?
  • Ask yourself who is listening? How will your audience receive or take part in the telling of the story? Anticipate their emotional and physical reactions and behaviours.
  • Reflect and visualise how your story will unfold- the sequence, zones, messages, how roles are shared or swapped, fold the story onto the space.

5. Detail the visual form to provide specification to produce/construct the environment

  • Make site plans and models
  • Visualise the user experience in a story board
  • Prototype or test the environment whenever possible
  • Detail the look and feel

6. Construct the environment

  • Send specs to production companies or make the installation yourself
  • Oversee the installation

7. Evaluate success of the design for:

  • Commercial success, eg more products sold, press and publicity
  • Educational success, more people learned more
  • Community cohesion or societal benefit and sustainability