Collaboration and Design Outcome: Direct and Indirect Perceptions of Creativity

Presented by: Ji Young Cho and Brie Constantino

The ability for mutual collaboration is essential in the interior design process. In a technologically driven and fast-paced society, interior designers must turn to collaboration to address the necessity of cross-discipline design development as well as accelerated project deadlines. Furthermore, the proliferation of global communication conduits fosters a demand for international projects and design teams (Stasser & Birchmeier, 2003). Thus, opportunities for diverse collaboration in the academic experience are important for preparing students’ competencies in real practice. 

However, collaboration holds a negative connotation for creativity in light of the social hierarchies that infiltrate collections of people. Individuals tend to feel pressure to focus on reaching consensus rather than exchanging and evolving ideas through interaction (Paulus & Nijstad, 2003). In addition, the activity of collaboration is often avoided due to the assumption that authorship of the design process is lost and subsequently, the representation of one’s creativity is limited. Designers question whether the outcome of a collaboration can embody the equivalent level of creativity found in individually produced outcomes. Contrary to this enduring negative identity, recent research on creativity and the design process imply the opportunity for innovation through collaboration. 

This paper is a discussion of the relationship between collaboration and creativity in design outcomes of an interior design process through a direct and indirect measurement of creativity. A study was conducted to identify how students perceive the degree of their creativity as expressed in a collaborative design project compared to an individual project (which refers to the direct measurement), and how reviewers perceive the degree of the creativity in the outcome (which refers to the indirect measurement). A total of 27 junior interior design students participated in the study. After finishing each collaborative design and individual design project, students completed a survey on their perception of creativity in their design project. The survey instruments were developed based on the Creative self-efficacy scale (Houghton & DiLiellom, 2010), Team creative confidence scale (Baer, Oldham, Jacobsohn, & Hollingshead, 2008), and personality creativity mode. A group of reviewers also assessed the creative level of each design project. Additionally, journal entries during the design process and post-outcome interviews were conducted to assess the discernment of direct and indirect perceptions of creativity. 

The resultant comparison highlights the opportunity for optimized creativity as a result of successful collaborative effort. With an understanding of the principles that delineate creativity as well as the associated characterization of an individual or group, design education and practice can implement appropriate strategies for improving the success of design outcomes and the collaborative experience. Personality-type, past experiences, and the motivations of an individual in design is found to significantly impact the development process of the idea and the realization of the outcome. 

The notion of collaboration is rarely considered a competitive strategy to optimize the creativity of a design outcome. The results from this study may help design educators to better understand the relation between collaboration and creativity, and how to enhance students’ positive experience in collaboration as it leads to creative outcomes.


  • Baer, M., Oldham, G. R., Jacobsohn, G. C., & Hollingshead, A. B. (2008). The personality composition of teams and creativity: The moderating role of team creative confidence. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 42(4), 255-282.
  • Houghton, J. D., & DiLiello, T. C. (2010). Leadership development: the key to unlocking individual creativity in organizations. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 31(3), 230-245.
  • Paulus, P. B., & Nijstad, B. A. (2003). Group Creativity; An Introduction. In P. B. Paulus & B. A. Nijstad (Eds.), Group creativity: Innovation through collaboration (3-11).  New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Stasser, G., & Birchmeier, Z. (2003). Group creativity and collective choice. In P. B. Paulus & B. A. Nijstad (Eds.), Group creativity: Innovation Group creativity: Innovation through collaboration through collaboration (85-109).  New York: Oxford University Press.
Join Renew Instagram Twitter Facebook LinkedIn
image widget