segunda-feira, abril 14, 2008

Design research, design thinking and imagination: the abilities to imagine and to image

Design as we know it - “industrial” design - is a relatively young discipline, little more than two hundred years old. The industrial process of design developed to cope with the social and technological changes of the Industrial Revolution. Design as we know it is a corollary of industrial society, industrial technology and the industrial production system.

The question we face is how design can be transformed as society and technology transform from industrial to post-industrial forms.

There have been different interpretations of the concept of post-industrialism. The differences have tended to polarise between the “info-tech” vision and the “eco-tech” vision. In the former, post-industrialism means a form of hyper-industrial technology, based on the information revolution, automation and highly advanced technology. In the latter, it means a more small-scale, resource-conserving, “convivial” technology. In the former, technology is regarded as an autonomous, science-driven force; in the latter, technology is brought under the influence and control of people and communities.

The products and processes of a technology are linked with each other. Pre-industrial technology had its own particular types of products and processes, just as industrial technology can now be seen to have had its own particular types of products and processes. In turn, post-industrial technology will have its particularities which will affect its design processes and the products that stem from it. Perhaps a new paradigm of technology can emerge. Some features of the new technology will be continuations of the old; some will create discontinuities. Some features will be generated by the possibilities of technological development itself, whereas others will be responses to the problems created by that same technological development.

Design as it might be - “post-industrial” design - is an issue for design research. Design research is an incredibly young discipline, only about forty years old, but nevertheless having significant influence on design practice and process and having great potential. Design research has a fundamental commitment to interdisciplinarity that will be essential to post-industrial design, and it is establishing a world-wide, international basis of cooperation that will be equally essential.

Design research is built around design thinking. Fundamental to design thinking is imagination: the abilities to imagine and to image.

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