September 29, 2009

Design: Think

"Focus less on the object." And more on the idea.

Tim Brown's TED Talk on Design Thinking re-imagines designers' roles in society. Traditional design wraps the object to make it more aesthetically appealing or enhances (tweaks) its shape to make it slightly more functional.

Brown, however, urges designers - and businesspeople - instead to apply design thinking: to collaborate (designers, psychologists, marketers, engineers, etc.) on all levels to create innovative solutions. Find out what the need is in the marketplace and make something to fill that need.

As graphic designers, we are trained to be visual problem-solvers. What stops us from solving larger, abstract problems? If we can communicate abstract ideas such as "unity" or "compassion" in a visual metaphor, why can't we work with engineers to create better transportation systems (for example)? We must understand our audience as graphic designers, and as people trying to communicate a message we should make sure what we're saying to that audience has the right impact. That's where design thinking comes in.

You can also read the article about design thinking, by Tim Brown (Harvard Business Review, June 2008). It's fascinating as well, and reviews case studies of design thinking/innovation.

(Post by E. Noelle)


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