Still Alive! Highlights from Design Thinking: Dead or Alive?

The New York City Chapter of the Industrial Designers Society of America and innovation consultancy Fahrenheit 212 collaborated last month on a very successful event entitled, Design Thinking: Dead or Alive? A stellar panel of voices, including Stephan Clambaneva, Debera Johnson, Cliff Kuang, Bill Moggridge, Mark Payne, Helen Walters and moderator Allan Chochinov, gathered at Fahrenheit 212’s expanding offices to discuss design thinking.

Following the Creative Crossfire format, a long-standing roundtable style event that is part of the IDSANYC Series, Mr Chochinov steered the discussion through a wide variety of topics, touching on everything from current design materials to design empathy, and how these ideas connect to the fundamentals of design thinking.

While the panel seemed to find consensus on design thinking’s ability to elevate design and allow for increased impact, they also explored the need for an ever-evolving definition of design thinking and designers. This is a tremendously exciting time to be a designer and a creative person, but it is also challenging. The problems of our world do not have concrete answers and can’t be solved with one great product. Some key areas of the discourse follow.

  • Design thinking, at its best, starts from the people, synthesizes the business and technology parts, and remembers the value of people throughout, differentiating it from other problem solving methods.
  • Design thinking is built to tackle difficult questions and create new systems that will help drive positive change and innovate a better future for us all.
  • Design thinking puts designers in service to the economy.
  • Design thinking can provide magical solutions that help humankind but also propel business and serve the company sponsoring the effort.
  • Design thinking is a powerful process because it uses intuition as well as logical thinking. It fosters interdisciplinary teams, which, in turn, allow individuals to be creative together in a ways they would never achieve alone.
  • Design thinking’s purpose is more important than the process. It gives people a license to break things down naively and learn what can be taken from design that will influence things in an intangible way.
  • The panel shared not only their ideas and experiences, but also their optimism for how designers and design thinking can help define the new kinds of fluencies and equations required to operate successfully in the incredibly saturated and complex world in which we are living. The need to be active and participatory for the change to happen was underscored.
  • A full and lively audience presided over the affair and some time for questions wrapped up the discussion. The crowd then adjourned to Fahrenheit 212’s newly acquired and nearly renovated office expansion where the animated conversation continued over cold drinks.

Plans are already in motion to gather other design luminaries for more important and thought provoking discussions.

One thought on “Still Alive! Highlights from Design Thinking: Dead or Alive?

  1. Noe Vasconcellos

    The “design thinking” hype is getting old. In my day, it was just part of the process of figuring out what you were designing. Now “IDEO” has reinvented the wheel and is endlessly congratulating itself for articulating the obvious, forgetting it highlights that this assumes they have not used client input before.

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