Blogless: Blog of Design Less Better.

Posts tagged Design Thinking.

Four Design Links:
July 1, 2010

Four Design Links is a review of the design- and ethics-related stories we've been reading online this week. This week: is design thinking a myth?, the ethics of gadgets, moral super-powers, and an Apple petition.

1. Design Thinking: A Useful Myth

Core77 has an essay from none other than Donald Norman, who criticizes the idea that "design thinking" is unique to designers but considers it a necessary evil if they are to be taken seriously for more than "making things pretty".

2. Death by Gadget

No phone or tablet computer can be considered “cool” if it may be helping perpetuate one of the most brutal wars on the planet.

From the Design Ethics desk: a NYT Op-Ed that asks us to consider the human cost of electronics made with conflict minerals.

3. Strength in naughty or nice

We've often said that if you want your business to do well, you should be morally good. Now you have another reason: Harvard researchers claim that trying to do good may give you super powers.

4. Gizmodo launches Apple iPhone petition

Gizmodo argues that Apple should either fix the iPhone 4 reception problem or give free cases to users (which fix the problem).

It does seem shady that the phones are broken and Apple's best suggestion (other than holding it unnaturally) is to buy a new $30 case from them. Even if that wasn't their strategy (and I doubt it was), they can't afford the perception.

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NickJul 1, 2010

Who is a Design Thinker?

Business and political leaders flatter design with potentially holding the key to big and pressing problems. Are designers equipped to handle these problems? Who is?

Kevin McCullagh has a really nice writeup of his thoughts on the recent The Big Rethink conference at Core77. Among many fine reflections on the profession, one thread of his discussion should be of particular interest to the BlogLESS crowd.

The Problem

Conference chair Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran "began by throwing down a hefty gauntlet to design. He explained that the world faces crises on many different levels, not only economic and environmental: politicians and corporate leaders are also experiencing a profound crisis of trust and legitimacy. This, in turn, has triggered a loss of confidence in the old ways of doing things and has led business and governments to cast around for new ideas. As design thinking is offering itself up as a process to solve many of these problems, what has it got to offer? Gulp!"

Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran
Vijay V. Vaitheeswaran, via.
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PaulApr 19, 2010

“Change By Design”

Tim Brown on Design Thinking

I just had the pleasure of hearing Tim Brown speak about his new book, Change By Design. He discussed the shift from design to design thinking, participatory design, and the value of applying an expansive view of design to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. Some of his ideas on design thinking are captured in this TED talk.

Video via.

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AndreaOct 7, 2009
Tagged with: Design Thinking, TED

Design is dead. Long live design.

If a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, when did the way we talk about design start to stink?

Rick Poynor, writing for ID last month, made an impassioned defense of the much-maligned visual element of the design process, an element he sees as one that designers should be willing to defend to its many critics, paramount among whom are the "design thinkers" who seek to supplant visual designers with vision-hungry corporations worldwide.

Quoting Dori Tunstall, he argues :

"There is an inherent intelligence to beauty, which is about the depth and passion we feel for the world." Design thinkers like to wax lyrical about the elegance of their strategic thinking as a form of design in its own right, as though this could ever be a substitute.

While my tendency, coming as I do from an interface design background, is to recoil at the very idea that making things look nice is somehow "good enough", Poyner does have a point, and some downright alarming quotes to back it up. Including Adaptive Path President Peter Merholz quoted as saying, “Designers like the shiny-shiny...That’s often why they got into design.” Poyner volleys:

Is an encounter with an everyday brand — a bottle of soda, a power tool, a packet of snacks — the place to go if you want to be moved, to seek education, or to grow as a person, and aren’t there better places to find those kinds of experiences?

The bad news is that both Merholz and Poyner are right. Essentially, the shiny-shiny isn't good enough, and also all the corporate vision in the world isn't going to help Miller Lite stir my emotions. The good news is that both of them (or at least their respective sound-bytes) are fighting straw men, the silliest representatives of design culture, visual or otherwise.

I suppose, though, that one does have to say those things, because often enough the silliest elements of culture are so often highly successful.

We don't want the most salient representatives of our profession to be associated with, on the one hand, mindless Photoshop junkies casting drop-shadows and ripple effects on the once-powerful identities of their clients, or, on the other hand, academic blowhards, spouting rhetoric intended to, "dazzle prospective clients into believing that they are dealing with rigorous professionals who work with precise methodologies and defined, quantifiable outcomes."

The problem, then, as I see it, is not so much the concrete philosophico-strategic position of one camp or the other (insofar as they ever exist atomically), but the general mindlessness that allows any design firm to internally justify that either a mindless visual kludge or else the Emperor's New Clothes is a legitimate result for a consulting engagement.

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PaulMay 14, 2008