Understanding inspiration: Insights into how designers discover inspirational stimuli using an AI-enabled platform

Kwon E, Rao V, and Goucher-Lambert K. 2023. Design Studies 88: 101202.


Throughout the design process, designers encounter diverse stimuli that influence their work. This influence is particularly notable during idea generation processes that are augmented by novel design support tools that assist in inspiration discovery. However, fundamental questions remain regarding why and how interactions afforded by these tools impact design behaviors. This work explores how designers search for inspirational stimuli using an AI-enabled multi-modal search platform, which supports queries by text and non-text-based inputs. Student and professional designers completed a think-aloud design exploration task using this platform to search for stimuli to inspire idea generation. We identify expertise and search modality as factors influencing design exploration, including the frequency and framing of searches, and the evaluation and utility of search results.