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This is a long due post on design thinking since I kept delaying it thanks to numerous confusions I had about the concept. Enough is enough! Now it is time to let them out of my thinking hats !!


First confusion : Is there a (dis) harmony in the combination – ‘design + thinking’ ?

Considering the coherence of meanings, ‘design thinking = design + thinking’ does not augur well, at least for me. Why? You design, you think, both are end in itself. Then why do you need to do ‘design + thinking’ ? Thus I have ventured to think that design thinking is not equal to design + thinking. Now what? Is it design a function of ( thinking ) or is thinking function of ( design )? It is possibly the confluence of the two.

Let me elaborate. From a primary reading, I could define design thinking as something about thinking about various design aspects that contributes to some logical end. On the second read it appears to me as a way to design the process of thinking itself. If we go on spending more time over these two words, we can generate more logical meanings and associations. It is quite natural. Yet every time I think about design and thinking, numerous mathematical and logical combinations pops up in my mind. Why? Is it common for every combination of words. Is design thinking as ambiguous as innovation thinking? Is design thinking analogous to creative thinking?

Second confusion : What is the ideological existence of the category called ‘design thinking’?

Design thinking has become a highly successful ideology in the market place of ideas and innovations. There is so much hype around the concept of design thinking that people are prompted to use them as an ornamental and allegoric content in a loose manner. Similarly, Concepts like creativity, innovation, leadership, management, culture are some other terms which have been misused for so long. We cannot blame these terms for their sad plight. Neither we can say that these terms are open ended leaving enough room for interpretations and misinterpretations depending on the application context and intent. Why?

Third confusion :  Is design thinking a static or a dynamic category?

Design and thinking: These terms are highly generic and societal. No contesting arguments on that. However the present overload of ambiguity and cacophony over the absolute meanings of these terms should throw light on the world in which these words are used. Some may differ that there is nothing such as an absolute meaning to any concept or categories. Meaning cannot be static or absolute. It varies with context and intent. Design and thinking varies with space and time. It varies with signifier and the signified. While agreeing that meaning cannot be absolute or static, we should critique the meaning of concepts and categories before we swallow them every time we see them in a context.

Fourth confusion : Is there a novel meaning for ‘architecture and design’ in the recent times?

Perhaps there is a counter argument that architecture and design has been mind blowing from time immemorial. On a second thought, we can see that in the previous civilizations and eras architecture and design were associated with the worlds and wonders of art and aesthetics. In this emerging 21st century, design thinking is no longer a subset of art and aesthetics, rather, it has become a conceptual category in itself. How?

Fifth confusion : Is design thinking societal or individualistic?

Design thinker and design thinking experiences cannot exist in isolation. It should be preceded and followed by other types and methods of thinking. Is it preceded by analytic thinking? Is it followed by organic thinking? Is communicative thinking a super set or sub set of design thinking? Is their a relation between relational thinking and design thinking? Is design thinking a meta narrative or a micro-narrative?

Thus my confusions around the realm of design thinking continues to grow and branch out into newer facets of arguments and sub-arguments. Despite the surge of confusions, I love the endless possibilities of thoughts and designs unraveled by the design thinkers and their creations, across the globe !