STRAIGHT FROM THE DESIGNER: ESRA LEMMENS ON Thinking through Design

The concept of design thinking is rather novel and not limited to designers like the name suggests. It is a process that creatively solves problems. The meaning of design thinking is simple; it’s basically the skill of being able to solve problems like a designer. Except, these problems are outside the perimeters of conventional design which means you need to think outside the box and be creative with your solutions.

The underlying theory behind it is to take problem-solving techniques used by designers and apply them to issues that could be developmental or even political. As you can see, those fields have nothing to do with design, yet design thinking is considered an invaluable asset because of the various creative outlets it offers.

The skill of design thinking is only mastered when the rigorous thought process of designing is incorporated into the problem-solving process. For the record, the design process consists of three phases: analytical, brainstorming and prototyping. It’s important to remember that design thinking is different from the design process, as the outcome of the former is never physical, for that matter. Unlike the design process, which requires a materialistic outcome, the end product of design thinking can be an advice, plan or a mind map.

The reasoning behind it is basic ownership of skill. Designing is just as difficult to master as any other profession, and to have their mastery reduced to a straightforward or uncomplicated definition can enrage designers.

Although the debate has stirred up quite a controversy, it wasn’t uncalled for on the side of the designers. Their adeptness has gone from being something exclusively attainable to an off-the-shelf, mass-produced product. This has the potential to adversely affect their means of income and there’s nothing more fearful than losing your bread and butter.

The backlash is understandable; the intention behind many ‘Design thinking” books are to make the design thinking process accessible to others without them having to go through years of training first. This happened as a result of the world placing greater emphasis as a contributory influence in effective problem-solving skills.

While members of the design community hold to a different perspective, their best advice is that design isn’t merely a result of a mental process. Years of experience are required to achieve the requisite level of expertise and skills.

I know this because of my extensive interaction with seasoned designers that conduct in-depth research before diving into the process. Designing extends the conventional boundaries, or so I’ve learned through my communication.

They possess substantial knowledge about shapes, volumes, materials, colors and fabrics. They can combine different aspects of design to create a masterpiece and most of all, their imagination and creativity are not limited to a time frame or place.

Any design created speaks for itself, designers have nothing to worry about. We live in a world where opinions may differ, but as creative people the results of our work speak for themselves.


(Image caption: Floris Hovers, Bottle Boats)

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