Monday, June 20, 2011

New Book on "Design Thinking" by Nigel Cross

Nigel Cross, Emeritus Professor of Design Studies at the Open University, UK, has a useful new book called "Design Thinking: Understanding How Designers Think and Work" that is a good introduction to design for K-12 teachers and undergraduate students.

Anyone who is interested in understanding how designers think and work will find this small, accessible book useful because it reveals what designers do while they are engaged in designing. Using case studies of designers at work, interviews, experiments, simulations and reflection, Cross helps us understand, often using the designer's own words, their creative processes and strategies for developing design innovations.

This is not a "how-to" book but it provides commentary and advice based on design research, case studies, and interdisciplinary observations from fields such as architecture, product design, engineering and automotive design. Design today includes activities like drawing or modeling done prior to and sometimes separate from making things.

Cross finds that designers share common strategies such as taking a broad, systems approach to a problem rather than accepting narrow criteria; framing the problem in distinctive ways; and design from "first principles" that attend to the problem goals, framing the problem, developing solution criteria, and conceptualizing a solution.

Cross says that we all design to a certain extent and can develop our natural design abilities over time through education and experience from neophyte and novice to expert and master.

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