An Introduction to Design Thinking About Emotion


An Introduction to Design Thinking About Emotion

A design is a blueprint or specification of the structure or form for the fabrication of an object, especially of a machine or system, or of the effective implementation of such a plan or specification, or the outcome of such a plan or specifications in the shape of a product, machine or process. The word ‘design’ itself denotes creativity and the subjective element of artistic feeling in relation to the design of a product. It also suggests a planning stage, a process involved in determining the method by which the product should be designed, the specifications of the design, the materials to be used etc. The word ‘inspiration’ is related to the process of coming up with a design. It implies the process of visualizing something design-wise.

The three most widely accepted theories on design thinking are cognitive, affective and interpersonal. Cognitive design theory is the idea that people are design thinkers in all human civilizations and cultures. The cognitive design approach is actually a reworking of much of the older psychological theory concerning how people solve problems and make choices, with an emphasis on the role of human thought in the design of the world around us. The emotional component of human design theory has been more recently argued to contribute to problem-solving and creative ability. The third way of approaching design thinking is the human-centered approach, emphasizing both the importance of the environment and the needs and desires of people as significant drivers of design choices.

Design Thinking in the Human-Centric Era Design thinking is as broad and deep as it is diverse, but it is primarily centered on human needs only. In the first two approaches to design thinking, psychology and engineering, human needs and desires were identified as the critical factors in designing something. The third way of approaching design thinking concentrates more on the role of people in designing things, particularly in new types of invention or innovation. As new industries are born and old ones adapt to newer ways of doing things, human creativity is as important to the process as are the design elements of the inventions and innovations.

The Design Process With the human-centered problem-solving approach, problem statement writing and brainstorming is done first, allowing the design team to define the problem and establish its essence. Then the problem statement itself is written, often by more than one person, to provide a unified statement for all the designers involved in the problem statement. Then the problem statement and its associated descriptions are typed, indexed, and posted for everyone’s viewing in what is called an ‘assembled document’ – though this does not include the original idea, only the formal definition. Most schools require that this whole exercise is done twice: once to write the problem statement and once to revise it.

The Analytical Phase In the analysis phase, the problem statement is compared with existing designs and the resulting criticism is assessed. Ideas about the problem and ways to deal with it are solicited from all those who have been involved in problem formulation – clients, colleagues, and designers. The goal here is to develop and support new products and ideas; to test and improve existing ones; and to see how well others empathize with the product, idea, or concept. Often people are asked to take on a more active role in problem formulation than they would in designing.

Conclusion Many people in and outside of the design industry view design thinking as being largely objective. This perspective, however, fails to take into account the emotional aspects of product and design thinking. When designing you are likely to generate feelings both good and bad about the project. In addition, the design process itself can evoke feelings of anxiety, fear, and dread and, in rare cases, anger. These emotions and reactions are very real and should not be ignored.