Design Mashup: Personal Objects Meet Narrative in Contemporary Design


Students, narrative, tropes, design, mashup


An engaging story is at the heart of every notable design. This paper proposes a method of teaching students how to employ narrative in their own design work. Students first construct a short, written narrative about an object that is meaningful to them. Then they discover how notable contemporary designers use narrative by collecting images of products that resonate with them. After collecting images of products, students define the essence of its narrative in one word. Finally students are asked to design a product with a new narrative by combining the narrative of their meaningful object with one of the narrative trends that they discover in their exploration of contemporary design. This paper gives an example of how the development of narrative helped students create meaningfully designed products. Ultimately, Design Mashup is a method of teaching students that narrative is an essential component of any impactful design, and it shows them how their own design work can be enriched by incorporating it into their design process.

Original Publication Citation

Howell, B., & Christensen, S. (2011). Design Mashup: Personal Object Meets Narrative in Contemporary Design. Conference proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education: Design Education for Creativity and Business Innovation (E&PDE11), City University, London, England. September 8-9.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL






Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor