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Showing posts from October, 2011

Book note: "Design Research Through Practice-from the lab, field and showroom"

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I often complain in  this blog about the lack of books in the field of design thinking and research. I know that many would not agree with me since they would argue that new books about design are published all the time. That might be true, but at the same time very few of these new books contribute to an overall understanding of design, even though they can be both interesting and useful on a more concrete and practical level.

A new book that tries to do both is the book "Design Research Through Practice-from the lab, field and showroom" by Ilpo Koskinen, John  Zimmerman, Thomas Binder, Johan Redström, and Stephan Wensveen.  The authors have taken on the task of putting together knowledge that take "a bird's eye perspective" on the growing academic design research field, while at the same time being useful in the practical teaching of design at a more advanced level, and to add some understanding about the scientific method in relation to design. This is a very…

The need for theoretical and philosophical books on design as a "big" thing and the passing of Kees Overbeeke and Steve Jobs

I have earlier written on this blog on topics similar to this post. The reason for writing about it again is my four latest blogposts. They are all about books that approach design as a "big" thing. These books examine design as something at the same level as science and art and of the same importance. There are of course many books out there about design and that has the word design in the title, but so many of them are about some specific approach, skill, competence, or tool. This is all good and well but in times when design is seen as the approach that will save business, a much deeper understanding is needed. And we do not have enough books at that level. We need many more. Write one.

When Steve jobs was asked about what design is and what his "obsession" about quality was all about, he answered something that supports the idea that we need more books that can provide a language and an understanding. Steve Jobs answered "“We don’t have good language to ta…

New MIT Press Book series on Design Thinking/Design Theory

For quite some time, my colleague and friend Ken Friedman and I have worked as Book Series Editors for a new book series with MIT Press. The book series is called Design Thinking/Design Theory. This is an exciting project. Ken and I have read many proposals and discussed many ideas for books from prospective authors. It has been fascinating to see what authors want to write about and how different the notion of design can be approached. Many are willing to propose a book, but few have what it takes to actually finish a manuscript.

So, today I got the first published book in the series in my mail. It is a highly interesting book by Thomas Binder, Giorgio De Michelis, Pelle Ehn, Giulio Jacucci, Per Linde and Ina Wagner. The title is Design Things.

More books in the series are on their way. If you have a book idea that would fit this series, let me know.

How to define design

I have mentioned here before that all signs are telling us that our reality is becoming more complex. While we humans spend more and more time making our reality into something that resembles or fulfills our dreams, it becomes more connected, more intertwined, more complex. The question is if this new reality, this complex mess, is easier to understand and to design for than the old "natural" and "simple" environment.

It is clear that complexity is quickly becoming the new research front in many disciplines. Complexity is the new challenge. It seems to emerge anywhere and all the time. There are of course also many ideas on how to approach complexity in a way that can "tame" it and make it manageable, maybe even possible to manipulate and work with (for a good discussion of the "nature" of complexity see Donald Norman "Living with complexity"). This is all good and well as long as the purpose is to study, describe, and maybe predict …