Is Design Thinking, Really Thinking? Designers in the 21st Century do not really think; they are in fact reactive decision makers!

By Philip G. C. Whiting.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Designers may believe they influence the outcome of a design including important environmental issues and sustainability to varying degrees as their thought process moves from rough concepts towards a final outcome, yet any design is already heavily influenced by the client and their perceived need(s) before the designer is even considered or approached.
Design thinking begins with a brief and ends with an outcome whereby the designer is managing the process in between, however a key issue of design management is framed by whom or what is directing design and where the designer is placed in this play of forces as a compliant or resistant subject.
How do designers think about themselves? Design suggests a thought process has taken place to address a problem and provide a creative solution or outcome. Does the term creative suggest a different approach to the thought process for the designer when in design mode and is creative thinking enough?
If design is the link between art and science, where both borrow from nature then should design thinking not model itself on nature and therefore evolution or natural development?
To achieve this designers have to become leaders and not service providers, they have to become reflective and creative thinkers, proactive and re-directive. Making critical design decisions that continuously question their role and responsibility at every level of design they must determine the real problem through solution risk mapping not the perceived problem and provide the optimum solution from every aspect of human behaviour through concept risk mapping and understand the future impact of the optimum solution through virtual risk mapping of the impact upon the environment or lack of and how the design fits into our overall lifestyles.

Keywords: Design Thinking, Creative Thinking, Design Management, Sustainability, Evolutionary Design

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.167-172. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 582.370KB).

Philip G. C. Whiting

Convenor, Design Department, Queensland College of Art, South Bank Campus, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I have worked for over 30 years in the disciplines of Interior, Product and Visual Communication Design with the focus on Total Retail Design, both in the UK and Australia. I strongly believe that the process of design and design thinking can be used to successfully address many of the issues faced by the world today and in the future. My PhD research is based on this premise and in my position as Convenor, Design Department at Queensland College of Art in Australia we are actively introducing this into the curriculum to redirect the way in which designers work in the future.


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