DESIGN THINKING — A BUZZWORD OR THE HOLY GRAIL OF DESIGN?
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Peter Childs, Stephen Green, Ashley Hall, Aran Dasan
Author: Hillner, Matthias
Institution: LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore, Royal College of Art, London
Section: Design and Engineering Education Practices
Design Thinking constitutes a concept that appears to reflect the zeitgeist of current design education. At the same time, recent interpretations of ideas surrounding design thinking raise most fundamental questions about the validity of traditional design-disciplinary practices. Large proportions of relevant writings are anchored in business management studies rather than in design. So how wide a circle should we draw around design thinking? And where exactly may we expect to find the centre of this circle? Design? Business? This paper draws on four different definitions of design thinking as articulated by Richard Buchanan at the Design Management Institute conference in London in 2014: an imaginative act, a cognitive decision-making process, a spirit, a discipline. In pursuit of a more in-depth understanding of Buchanan’s design thinking concepts, a series of interviews conducted with designer-entrepreneurs at InnovationRCA, a London-based design business incubator, reveals particular attributes which all interviewees seemed to share: an enterprising spirit and a deep-seated ambition to foster radical innovation. Might this connect with the spirit that Buchanan was alluding to? Are the design thinkers of the future, the designer-entrepreneurs who we see emerge at present? If so, can this spirit be taught and nurtured through academic provisions? In the book ‘Design Thinking for the Greater Good’, Jeanne Liedtka et al. claim that design thinking is human-centred, ‘possibility-driven’ . So, what are the possibilities of innovating design education to nurture design thinking as a spirit and to develop this process into a discipline? And what are the challenges?