Understanding Design

For many designers, the design process is loaded with tacit and implicit knowledge that serves their practice adequately. Explaining decisions to clients and teaching design at a University has pushed me to understand more explicitly the ambiguous nature of what we do.

As a design practitioner, I have an embodied sense of what it means to design. However, I wonder how the visual might help transform my tacit and implicit understanding of design into the explicit. I am not seeking to design a solution to this problem, but rather build an understanding of design through making. My research inquiry may be paradoxical given design is typically solution-seeking. I wonder if adding research after design shifts the solution-seeking orientation, to a study that’s inherently different?

Design processes from my experience are unique and dynamic so the act of determining what a design process looks like has its limitations. If this agility is a strength of design, how might visual explanations of what we do better reflect the emergent nature of design practice?  Reducing design processes to a static and easy to grasp diagram like the double diamond model from the Design Council is not my agenda. Nor is the development of a framework that walks individuals through a process. Following a predetermined process doesn’t automatically lead to well-designed outcomes, it simply embeds participants with an explicit understanding of a design thinking process. All that is determined has strengths and weaknesses and in the case of Designing Thinking we could say it helps us to better tackle wicked problems and communicate better with business, but it’s not all-encompassing of design, designing and the designed. 

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