‘Design Thinking’: The Emperor’s New Suit

By Rita Almendra and Henri Christiaans.

Published by Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal — Annual Review

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

The current popularity of ‘design thinking’ in business and engineering presupposes an understanding of the decision-making process in design. However, knowledge about designing often does not go deeper than the superficial content of the process phases. In this paper we will discuss decision-making in design by showing the complexity of this hermeneutical process. How are decisions made in design which, first of all, has the nature of a dialogue, based on abductive reasoning in which both intuition and logic play a role? Even more relevant, designing is a multidisciplinary endeavor with players from several fields: designers, economists, lawyers, engineers, psychologists, anthropologists,and marketers. Hence, a designer must work effectively with a team composed of members of different disciplines. Every discipline will have its own way of decision-making according its educational tradition and type of problems to solve. To tune these different approaches in decision-making is the real challenge in developing innovative artifacts. The paper will be based on theoretical notions from literature and on empirical studies performed by the authors in the area of design and business.

Keywords: Decision making in Design, Hermeneutics, Design Thinking

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal — Annual Review, Volume 6, 2012, pp.97-108. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.946MB).

Prof. Rita Almendra

Assistant Professor, Department of Design, Faculty of Architecture, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Portugal

Rita Almendra is a Designer and Assistant Professor at the Department of Design, Faculty of Architecture, TU Lisbon. She has a Master in Design Management and an MBA with marketing specialization from FCEE-Portuguese Catholic University. She finished her PhD in 2010, hosted by the same University. The Thesis title was “Decision making in the Conceptual Phase of Design Process: a descriptive study contributing for the strategic adequacy and overall quality of design outcomes”. She is the Coordinator of the Schenography graduation Program at the same Faculty. She lectures several courses in the area of design theory and management, sustainability and design research at the Design Master Programs and at the Post-Graduation Program Strategic Design and Innovation of ISEG/FA. Her research focus is on design processes and the strategic role of design in business. Rita Almendra is a Researcher from LID–Innovation in Design Lab-from FA, TU Lisbon where she participates in projects related with Strategic Design Knowledge and Usage, Design Cognition and Design Methodologies.

Prof. Henri Christiaans

Associate Professor, Department of Industrial Design, School of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands

Henri Christiaans is a psychologist with a PhD in industrial design engineering, with the Thesis title: “Creativity in Design; the role of domain knowledge.” His current position is associate professor at Delft University of Technology, School of Industrial design Engineering and visiting professor at Visiting professor Universidade Técnica de Lisboa (UTL). At TUDelft he is head of the Master Specialization Program on Retail Design. For 30 years he has conducted research and education in creativity, design processes, information processing and cognitive ergonomics. Together with several journal papers he published books on research methodology, innovation and entrepeneurship and retail design. At the moment he supervises 10 PhD’s. Retail design is recently a main topic, a new design discipline that links product design with architecture and interior design. He has done several design and innovation projects in Africa, Asia, South-America and southern Europe. He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Design Research (www.inderscience.com/jdr).