Design and Designers
Design and approach towards it have vastly changed over the years. In industrial design, designers were primarily focused on physical products. But today, it has more to do with social problems, interaction and experience. I think most of the technical designers trained in engineering fail to understand the social and behavioral sciences. These sciences play a major role in applying design thinking in solving various problems.
Many of the current problems facing the world at global and local level are highly complex, requiring moral and ethical perspectives to solve, as well as reasoning about efficiency. So called “Wicked Problems”
The need for a balance between the scientific and human-centric approach is very necessary. I find the same kind of balanced approach in Architecture – It is the ‘art’ and ‘science’ of designing buildings and (some) non-building structures.
I read about David Schon who examined how professionals really go about problem solving and he concluded that as ‘reflection in action’. It’s an iterative, collaborative process combining both art and science. The spontaneous and dynamic knowledge as Schon tells us can only be taught possibly in the environment of a ‘Studio’. In this unique environment of a ‘Studio’, the tutor conveys this dynamic knowledge to the students through his own knowing and personal experiences. He has to employ an iterative procedure with a sequence involving planning-acting-observing-reflecting approach to solve the problems.
A significant part of a designer’s training constitutes of humanitarian disciplines. But, due to the present day emphasis of growing attention to financial, managerial and technological aspects, as I keep repeating myself there is an urgent need to balance the ‘art’ and ‘science’ during design training. As I have earlier discussed, an industrial designer is no good without the social and behavioral science knowledge because we are trying to solve bigger problems than product design. The same can be said about a humanistic discipline designer who doesn’t have sufficient scientific knowledge. Here is where training/education must be able to help a designer in blending both the sciences and be able to bridge the gap.
The evolution of socio-economic contexts and technology at a rapid pace are the reasons why professional design practice is changing. How can we bring a balance between these two is the question that has to be exactly answered by the training/education process to be designed.
“Design is not about how it looks, it’s about how it works” said Steve Jobs. But now we can say that “Design is not about how it works, it’s about how you get it to work”. Present day designers must be able to solve problems on multiple dimensions without losing sight of the big opportunity to wow the world. Designers must also be better suited for solving open ended problems with arguable solutions. The process of getting things to work is design.
Birth of a new generation of designers willing to create their own enterprise is very welcoming. Because, designers when they understand that the process of how to get something to work is the real art of design, will make great entrepreneurs. Between a designer and an entrepreneur, obsession with a problem tops the list of common traits. Founding a company and making everything work is a process of ultimate design.