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The Problem of Design Problems
By Kees Dorst
‘Underdetermined problems’ – called this because of its ‘openness’
Underdetermined in 2 ways:
These leave a large gap in between the design problem and the design solution
Design problems are not completely determined, but also not completely free; they have a threefold nature
Co-evolution of the design problem and the design solution
We can’t presuppose that there is something like a set ‘design problem’ at any point in the design process
There is an amalgamate of different problems that centers around the basic challenge that is described in a design brief
Approaching a design problem becomes a clue to understanding what the design problems are
Problematic situations are the results of a breakdown in the normal, fluent problem solving behavior; moments of real choice; surprises; turning points in the designer’s reflective conversation with the situation
The levels of expertise potentially have the power to coherently describe the ways in which designers perceive, interpret, structure and solve design problems.
(Article on the structure of design problems)
Focuses on the descriptions of design problems as ‘underdetermined problems’ and on the way design problems are treated within the two paradigms of design methodology. They then set out to develop an approach to the study of design problems based on the situated nature of design problems and the evolutionary nature of design processes.
Design Thinking refers to the methods and processes for investigating ill-defined problems, acquiring information, analyzing knowledge, and positing solutions in the design and planning fields. As a style of thinking, it is generally considered the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context. While design thinking has become part of the popular lexicon in contemporary design and engineering practice, as well as business and management, its broader use in describing a particular style of creative thinking-in-action is having an increasing influence on twenty-first century education across disciplines. In this respect, it is similar to systems thinking in naming a particular approach to understanding and solving problems.
Currently, there is a momentum to create awareness about design thinking among designers and other professions by teaching design thinking in higher education. The premise is that by knowing about the process and the methods that designers use to ideate, and by understanding how designers approach problems to try to solve them, individuals and businesses will be better able to connect with and invigorate their ideation processes in order to take innovation to a higher level. The hope is to create a competitive advantage in today’s global economy.
Design Thinkers also use divergent thinking and convergent thinking to explore many possible solutions. Divergent thinking is the ability to offer different, unique or variant ideas adherent to one theme while convergent thinking is the ability to find the “correct” solution to the given problem. Design thinking encourages divergent thinking to ideate many solutions (possible or impossible) and then uses convergent thinking to prefer and realize the best resolution.