• Random

  • 09.Aug
  • Queen at the London Riots
  • Many people are upset that The Queen wasn’t in London for the London Riots. So… Ladies and gentlemen who are leaving comments on The British Monarchy’s facebook page, worry no more. She was there: Click image to enlarge at full screen. Okay, I may have used a little Photoshop skills here. It’s actually a different […]

  • Design Process

  • 16.Apr
  • 5 Intelligent Questions to Ask
  • Here are 5 categories of questions good designers ask. I’m looking forward to being more self-aware of the questions I ask in the generative phase, making sure that they are diverging and not converging. I think it likely requires a little patience but I’m willing to wait for the ideas to ripen.

What is design thinking?

The first thing to know about design thinking is that it’s a label to describe the type of thinking designers do, which sits in the middle of science and art. This post describes the four stages designers, scientists and artists use in developing a solution.


I have been piecing together the picture of ‘design thinking’ and this definition continues to grow as I research and uncover all sorts of information.

The first thing to know about design thinking is that it’s a label to describe the type of thinking designers do, which sits in the middle of science and art. Scientific thinking is based on logic and reason, repeatable results, testable theories. Artistic thinking is about composition, forms coming together to create an experience or an emotional reaction. Of course both of those definitions could be greatly expanded but let’s not get carried away.

Design thinkers don’t have to be designers. It just so happens that designers tend to be good at blending art with science as it’s a skill that exceptional designers have so they get to own the label. Here are four stages that describe the design thinking process, based on the work of Koln’s Experiential Learning Theory.

Designers need to become mini experts in the subject they are hired to communicate. This requires observation skills like research, ethnography, psychology—much like scientists use—to understand the topic, the activity and the intended audience. Artist employ observation also but focus on materials such as clay, paint or tools paying attention to the forms available. Designers also have to work with such materials and tools in order to produce a tangible outcome.

Designers also need to be good at framing by being able to make sense of a large amount of information and organise it in a way that brings the key problems and solutions together. In science that means structuring a set of questions to test and identifying controls and variables. In art this is an ability to organise spaces or forms to make new meanings or contrast ideas. Designers use both of these to help organise a mess of information and distill it down to the bare truth.

Designers are also good at directing. After observing and framing the issues, designers need to establish what the outcome should be based on the needs of the consumer. In science this is the hypothesis and methodology used to direct an experiment to an identifiable outcome. In art this is most apparent in theatre where a director is able to direct the actors towards a cohesive performance.

Designers finally need to be good at prototyping. This is experimenting with a tangible output and evaluating it, refining it and then selecting the best design. Scientists prototype by running experiments and evaluating them. Artists too often create a set of sketches or do colour studies prior to painting or creating a final work. Prototyping is the skill designers are best known for as clients mostly request designers for objects such as a logo, a chair or packaging. And in turn designers tend to only charge for services during this stage which has removed some emphasis from the other design skills both in education and in the industry.

For additional reading my I suggest:



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