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What is the Content of “Design Thinking”? Design Heuristics as Conceptual Repertoire

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When engaged in design activity, what does a designer think about? And how does she draw on disciplinary knowledge, precedent, and other strategies in her design process in order to imagine new possible futures? In this paper, we explore Design Heuristics as a form of intermediate-level knowledge that may explain how designers build on existing knowledge of “design moves”—non-deterministic, generative strategies or heuristics—during conceptual design activity. We describe relationships between disciplinary training and the acquisition of such heuristics, and postulate how design students might accelerate their development of expertise.

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What is the Content of “Design Thinking”? Design Heuristics as Conceptual Repertoire

  1. 1.  What is the Content of “DESIGN THINKING”? Design Heuristics as Conceptual Repertoire Colin M. Gray1, Colleen M. Seifert2, 
 Seda Yilmaz1, Shanna R. Daly2, & Richard Gonzalez2 1 Iowa State University; 2 University of Michigan
  2. 2. What is a designer thinking about when engaged in DESIGN THINKING?
  3. 3. What is a designer thinking about when engaged in DESIGN THINKING? SCOPE GENERATE EVALUATE REALIZE IDEA GENERATION
  4. 4. Design Heuristics • Captures the ways that designers modify 
 product concepts • Based on observed patterns of conceptual development in empirical studies of past product designs (e.g., Daly et al., 2012; Yilmaz & Seifert, 2010; 
 Yilmaz et al., 2011)
  5. 5. Design Heuristics Utilize opposite surface 76 Create a distinction between exterior and interior, front and back, or bottom and top. Make use of both surfaces for complimentary or different functions. This can increase efficiency in the use of surfaces and materials, or facilitate a new way to achieve a function. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Utilize opposite surface 76FARALLON CHAIR fuseproject The back side of this chair has a pocket for storage. 980 TATOU Annika Luber The laces wrap around the bottom of this shoe and connect with the sole.
  6. 6. Other Ideation Methods • Represented as abstract principles or framing guidelines (e.g., Synectics, SCAMPER) • More specific about tradeoffs in designed artifacts (e.g., TRIZ) • Design Heuristics captures strategic knowledge about how to generate alternative concepts, grounded in precedent artifacts and design activity
  7. 7. (Löwgren, 2013, p. 32)
  8. 8. (Löwgren, 2013, p. 32) “more abstracted than particular instances, yet does not aspire to the generality of a theory” (Höök & Löwgren, 2012)
  9. 9. (Löwgren, 2013, p. 32)
  10. 10. (Löwgren, 2013, p. 33)
  11. 11. (Löwgren, 2013, p. 33) Intermediate-Level Knowledge
  12. 12. Designing Through Gambit REPERTOIRE
  13. 13. Designing Through Gambit lived experiences precedents cognitive schema [generative metaphors] REPERTOIRE
  14. 14. DISCIPLINARY CANON INDIVIDUAL REPERTOIRE INTERMEDIATE-LEVEL CONCEPT BUILT FROM PRECEDENT
  15. 15. DISCIPLINARY CANON INDIVIDUAL REPERTOIRE INTERNAL COHERENCE OF PATTERN DESIGN HEURISTICS AS CONCEPTUAL REPERTOIRE
  16. 16. Utilize opposite surface 76 Create a distinction between exterior and interior, front and back, or bottom and top. Make use of both surfaces for complimentary or different functions. This can increase efficiency in the use of surfaces and materials, or facilitate a new way to achieve a function. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Utilize opposite surface 76FARALLON CHAIR fuseproject The back side of this chair has a pocket for storage. 980 TATOU Annika Luber The laces wrap around the bottom of this shoe and connect with the sole.
  17. 17. Utilize opposite surface 76 Create a distinction between exterior and interior, front and back, or bottom and top. Make use of both surfaces for complimentary or different functions. This can increase efficiency in the use of surfaces and materials, or facilitate a new way to achieve a function. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 Utilize opposite surface 76FARALLON CHAIR fuseproject The back side of this chair has a pocket for storage. 980 TATOU Annika Luber The laces wrap around the bottom of this shoe and connect with the sole. CURATED PRECEDENT ARTIFACTS
  18. 18. Utilize opposite surface 76FARALLON CHAIR fuseproject The back side of this chair has a pocket for storage. 980 TATOU Annika Luber The laces wrap around the bottom of this shoe and connect with the sole. Utilize opposite surface 76 Create a distinction between exterior and interior, front and back, or bottom and top. Make use of both surfaces for complimentary or different functions. This can increase efficiency in the use of surfaces and materials, or facilitate a new way to achieve a function. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 INDUCTIVE ARGUMENT BUILDING ON PRECEDENT CURATORIAL QUALITY
  19. 19. Utilize opposite surface 76 Create a distinction between exterior and interior, front and back, or bottom and top. Make use of both surfaces for complimentary or different functions. This can increase efficiency in the use of surfaces and materials, or facilitate a new way to achieve a function. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 DESIGNER DESIGN 
 HEURISTIC CREATIVE IDEA imagines
 a gambit to form a 
 solution space
  20. 20. Utilize opposite surface 76 Create a distinction between exterior and interior, front and back, or bottom and top. Make use of both surfaces for complimentary or different functions. This can increase efficiency in the use of surfaces and materials, or facilitate a new way to achieve a function. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 DISCIPLINARY CANON DISCIPLINARY CANON
  21. 21. Scaffolding of Design Cognition 1. Build students’ knowledge of curated intermediate-level concepts (e.g., Design Heuristics) alongside organic idea generation 2. Instructionally relate intermediate-level concepts to the design artifacts being generated 3. Transfer of the intermediate-level knowledge to a new concept in a different context 4. Internalization of intermediate-level knowledge as a guiding pattern of internal coherence, organizing and growing conceptual repertoire
  22. 22. Utilize opposite surface 76 Create a distinction between exterior and interior, front and back, or bottom and top. Make use of both surfaces for complimentary or different functions. This can increase efficiency in the use of surfaces and materials, or facilitate a new way to achieve a function. © Design Heuristics, LLC 2012 DISCIPLINARY CANON DISCIPLINARY CANON Design Heuristics can enable or hasten the learner’s trajectory in building awareness of expert-like practices
  23. 23. What is a designer thinking about when engaged in DESIGN THINKING?
  24. 24. DESIGN HEURISTICS 
 create a conceptual bridge between 
 design theories and individual 
 design precedents, 
 forming a body of intermediate-level knowledge that is valuable in engineering design education and practice
  25. 25. Thank You This research is funded by the National Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education, Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (TUES Type II) Grants # 1323251 and #1322552. COLINGRAY.ME DESIGNHEURISTICS.COM

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