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World around, their is huge attention given to design driven theories and movements. ‘Design Thinking’ is a collective making waves in the circles of business and technology.  Industrial Design, Instruction design, Product design, service design, interaction design, experience design etc are perceived as different functional facets of design driven perception of the world around us.  Industrial design may be somewhat older compared to other fields mentioned. It inherits some of the historic etches from the 20th century era of functional aesthetics and a modernist society fueled by industrial revolution.

A little bit of history is necessary here.


During 1920’s we saw the revolt in the world of art and aesthetics through the movements of expressionism, impressionism, constructivism etc. This was largely inspired by the different experiences of industrial revolution and enlightened humanity.After the destructive period of world wars and resultant turbulence in imagination, we saw the emergence of cubism and surrealism. During the mid 1960’s, we saw the arrival of minimalism to the stage. When surrealism and cubism remained as the movements of revolting art, minimalism offered a curated and streamlined experience embraced by the world of market and product designers alike. It was so much in synchronicity with a simplified world view where experienced are reduced to the permutations and combinations around products and commodities.

From 1980’s, we are building an ecosystem of industrial design consistently around the brilliant combination of impressionism and minimalism. The behavioral and cognitive psychology has added a certain level of depth to this combination. Anthropology and semiotics has added dimensions to this combination. Yet this mix remains largely linear in nature. Why?

Even today, art movements of expressionism, surrealism and constructivism are beyond the purview of contemporary product and industrial design laboratories. Why?

When you study fractals and topological constructs of various kind, sometimes you are just flummoxed by the intriguing design and bewildering pattern and get lost in the mathematical models. What is your approach to derive inferences from these wonderful patterns of nature?

There is so much of experience and knowledge intrinsic to these non-linear forms of art and aesthetics that they appear chaotic and sometime meaningless to a product designer. At the same time, it does not mean that these forms of art are not functional in nature. They are able to influence human mind and user experience at higher scales.

In our times, there is so much stress on minimalism and reduction-ism that everything beyond the definitions of products and services appear random and non-linear. We are missing a lot of data and inferences here.

When we speak about design thinking and experience design today, our reaches are limited to the linear components alone. Non-linear functions of experiences and aesthetics is largely missing in the equations.

Hence design thinking in actuality should go beyond the reductionist approach and reach out to the nonlinear forms of knowledge generated by interactions between humanity, nature and their constructs. All forms of subjectivity are not entirely intuitive and irrational. There is so much of science out there in the philosophy of knowledge for us to unravel. A large ocean of knowledge and rationale is out their to decipher. It is not just fifty shades of grey. They are abundant spectral lines as vivid as our lives.