Last week I went along to a talk by Lucy Kimbell organised by Prof Teal Triggs at London College of Communication. This event was designed for PhD design-led research students and touched upon the social aspects of service innovation. The concept of 'Design Thinking' has become heavily adopted within big corporations and organisations to pitch creative strategies as a vehicle to implement new concepts, products and services. Through application design thinking works alongside non designers who are invited to participate within the design process. Design then becomes a portable practice and new thinking is approached through action. But what does this actually mean?
This was Lucy's starting point and she took us on a journey over the next 90 mins to scope the landscape and introduce us to her own perspective. As a PhD student, designer and researcher I have used 'Design Thinking' as my starting point to address new projects and expand upon co-design - I really connected to this presentation and left feeling very inspired.
This talk made us question:
What do designers do? How is it different and how can we describe it? If this role is about agency and participation the role changes and how do we manage this process? Is there something distinctive about having a design trained background? Do we need to go back to studios / education to explore what we are teaching designers to apply?
How does design change when applied within a larger organisation?
Who are the publics / who are you designing for?When we invite others to participate within the design process we refer to them as the 'end user' but how does this sample group represent the majority?
If design is about participation and adopting a people centred ethos its a social practice. This shifts beyond visualising solutions and moves towards giving things shape, form and meaning. Lucy highlighted that the reflective conversation with the materials can create a dialogue with stuff. I found think point really relevant especially within a fashion and textile design domain - the tangible and material form is central to the process and this becomes an interface to engage people. (images from one of my test session's / workshops)
I liked her reference to prototypes and provotypes - something I have been exploring. Instead of mocking up a concept or solution - can we create something more controversial that provokes conversation and triggers an emotional response. Could this be more effective - if something is finished and refined its difficult to provoke conversation. Therefore, if something is incomplete or designed to make a bold statement maybe people would feel less intimidated?
There was lots of discussion about beauty, aesthetics and moving from visualisation towards stuff. Lucy highlighted that this is what designers are skilled and good at therefore this is an asset and should not be removed from the process.
There were references to Christopher Alexander "giving shape and form" and Thomas Binder"boundary objects". Boundary objects become an interface to connect people and mediate action. They become learning devises to facilitate learning. When working with non designers managing expectation is a key aspect and I thought these points were key to the process. Another reference to Graham Harman who talks about the role of objects and how they can be used to connect people.