Problems, Design Problems, and Designers: Decision-making in Action

Griffth University
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Exploring Technology Education: Solutions to issues in a globalised world, 2008, pp. 177 - 185
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Abstract: While it is undeniable that both design and design education seek to engage with meaningful problems and to achieve desirable solutions, much of design education is still hostage to the twin notions (i) that problems constitute sets of external conditions presented to the designer for the most efficacious solution and (ii) that the potential problem-solver is somehow neutral in respect of the problems s/he engages with, âmerelyâ applying extant skills and knowledge to achieve their solution. This mindset can easily mistake design education for the provision of just such technical skills and knowledge, and fails to take due cognisance of the central role of the problem-solver in establishing just what problem is actually being solved in any particular case. In elucidating this the paper argues that meaningful problems are to a significant extent self-determined by the design problem-solver; that there is an intrinsic, and often under-acknowledged, link between problem-setting and the establishment of outcome possibilities; and that relevant criteria of outcome acceptability or desirability cannot be known, to either designer or client, in advance of both personal problem-setting and the advancement of solution-candidates.
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