Design thinking - a paradigm

DS 87-2 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 2: Design Processes, Design Organisation and Management, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Laursen, Linda Nhu; Tollestrup, Christian
Series: ICED
Institution: Aalborg University, Denmark
Section: Design Processes, Design Organisation and Management
Page(s): 229-238
ISBN: 978-1-904670-90-2
ISSN: 2220-4342


Design thinking has received an increasing amount of attention in both practice and academia. Previous research has successfully pointed out design thinking is vaguely and diversely defined, presenting eight different discourses. Although design thinking has been viewed from different perspectives with diverse results, much current research use the terms of design thinking without clarification of the relation to one another; this creates confusion. With this paper we clarify design thinking. Through a review of key literature and a conceptual synthesis, we show design thinking is not merely a process or either of eight suggested discourses – but all of them. Thinking like a designer is a paradigm, which may materialize in various forms. It is a way of seeing and interacting with the world. It is a world-view. By categorising central themes from key literature, we add to the current discussion with a coherent conceptual framework of design thinking. A taxonomy of the design thinking paradigm, which provide clarity of levels, since there in current literature are no clear distinction between the fundamental paradigm, methods and practical tools and techniques of design thinking.

Keywords: Design theory, Design methodology, Design methods


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