A Future Path for Design


From: DesignX(*)

Design changed its focus after World War II to an emphasis upon appearance, often unrelated to how products performed or how they were used. As the development of electronic circuits and computer chips allowed devices to have increased functions, the emphasis on appearance resulted in complicated and confusing interactions. The next stage in design, which is where we are today, is correcting these problems by developing methods of designing for the needs and capabilities of people. The result is more understandable and pleasurable interactions between people and technology.

Problems are more volatile than ever before, and information often changes faster than it can be validated. This is why we need a new research tradition to explore the issues involved in models of education as well as models of practice. We need a theoretical foundation to support new ways of research and education. We need an innovative and inclusive social eco-system to enable the application of new knowledge and methods for positive social and economic change. And we need to develop new methods of experimentation to allow rapid assessment, test, and deployment of prototypes, test trials, and even mock “solutions,” the better to give rapid feedback and allow for repeated iterations toward superior results. The mantra should be “learn fast, learn continuously.”

Education must also change. Today, universities are focused upon discipline-based education that no longer suffices to deal with large, complex problems that involve multiple disciplines, technology, art, the social sciences, politics, and business. We need robust, new models for education, some based upon disciplinary skills, others based upon problems rather than disciplines, where experts and students from many backgrounds work together on a specific issue. This requires adding problem-based education to the existing emphasis upon disciplines.

(*) * A joint statement, written by “The DesignX Collaborative” authored by (in alphabetical order): Ken Friedman (Tongji University, College of Design and Innovation and Swinburne University Centre for Design Innovation), Yongqi Lou (Tongji), Don Norman (University of California, San Diego, Design Lab), Pieter Jan Stappers (Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering), Ena Voûte (Delft), and Patrick Whitney (Illinois Institute of Technology, Institute of Design).


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