Design beyond Design

Publication Type:
Journal Article
She Ji, 2019, 5 (2), pp. 117 - 127
Issue Date:
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© 2019 Tongji University and Tongji University Press As organizations struggle to respond to a world in which problems are becoming more open, complex and increasingly networked, many have turned to design thinking as a way to obtain solutions and achieve innovation. In this article, I will focus on the question of whether the current design paradigm is capable of delivering on these expectations, or whether design is overextended when dealing with areas of great complexity, such as in the social realm. The fact that at its core, design reasoning or design abduction requires the consideration of two unknowns more or less simultaneously (the “what” and the “how”) puts a heavy strain on our human cognitive limitations in the best of times—and doubly so in highly complex problem situations. Over the years, expert designers have developed an elaborate array of coping strategies to contend with this issue. All of these help to a degree, but the fundamental issue remains. Design might be limiting itself by approaching complex problem situations through a ‘problem solving’ perspective. In this article, a radically different approach is explored, which takes the complex nature of the problem situation as its starting point, and reframes the task of design as system transformation, rather than the creation of a solution. An example from practice illustrates this new design paradigm.
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