Re-Igniting Design Thinking

Richard Buchanan makes a key point about design in his paper Wicked Problems in Design Thinking;
We have seen design grow from a trade activity to a segmented profession to a field for technical research and to what now should be recognized as a new liberal art of technical culture.”

Recognizing the transformation of design to what it is now is important when pondering the true meaning of Design Thinking. With more opportunity than ever to pursue design as a career, many new, creative, and enthusiastic minds are joining the industry. Shouldn’t this mean that design is more universal and relevant to our daily lives than ever? In many ways, yes. However the application of design thinking has been channeled into a narrow field, the use of this thinking in other aspects of our lives could change the world. In the words of Tim Brown, “Design’s too important to be left to designers.”

Brown made a great example of broad use of design thinking in his talk for TED. Isambard Kingdom Brunel invented for a very technical line of work, the railroad industry. However, he allowed himself to make the impossible possible when he set out to “create the experience of floating across the countryside.” To make his vision happen, he created suspension bridges and long mountain tunnels. His ambition and use of design thinking allowed revolutionary changes to the railroad. Today, we focus a lot of energy into design pertaining to entertainment, advertising, fashion, and beautiful but trivial objects instead of more revolutionary issues.

The importance of using design thinking applies heavily to science. Because science is all about discovering what is unknown, thinking outside the box and repeating trials (much like making prototypes) are essential. Same goes for scientific media design. You must use that bold, creative thinking process while working with both the factual and artistic side of scientific media design.

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