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14 SEPTEMBER 2015

Design for Action: designing the immaterial artefact

"Throughout most of history, design was a process applied to physical objects. Raymond Loewy designed trains. Frank Lloyd Wright designed houses. Charles Eames designed furniture. Coco Chanel designed haute couture. Paul Rand designed logos. David Kelley designed products, including (most famously) the mouse for the Apple computer.

But as it became clear that smart, effective design was behind the success of many commercial goods, companies began employing it in more and more contexts. High-tech firms that hired designers to work on hardware (to, say, come up with the shape and layout of a smartphone) began asking them to create the look and feel of user-interface software. Then designers were asked to help improve user experiences. Soon firms were treating corporate strategy making as an exercise in design. Today design is even applied to helping multiple stakeholders and organizations work better as a system.

This is the classic path of intellectual progress. Each design process is more complicated and sophisticated than the one before it. Each was enabled by learning from the preceding stage. Designers could easily turn their minds to graphical user interfaces for software because they had experience designing the hardware on which the applications would run. Having crafted better experiences for computer users, designers could readily take on nondigital experiences, like patients' hospital visits. And once they learned how to redesign the user experience in a single organization, they were more prepared to tackle the holistic experience in a system of organizations."

(Tim Brown and Roger Martin, 2015, Harvard Business Review)

A version of this article appeared in the September 2015 issue (pp.56–64) of Harvard Business Review.

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TAGS

Bill BuxtonCharles EamesCoco Chanelcomplex systems • David Kelley • design history • design intervention • design processdesign thinking • design-oriented approach • design-oriented thinkingdesigned artefactethnographic design approachFrank Lloyd Wright • genuinely innovative strategies • graphical user interfaceHarvard Business ReviewHerbert Simon • holistic user experience • IDEOimmateriality • intervention design • iPoditerative prototyping • iterative rapid-cycle prototyping • iTunes Store • Jeff Hawkins • look and feellow-fidelity prototype • low-resolution prototype • nondigital experiences • PalmPilot • Paul Randpersonal digital assistantphysical objectsrapid prototyping • Raymond Loewy • redesignRichard Buchananrole of the designerservice designuser experienceuser experience designuser feedbackuser interface designwicked problems

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
21 JULY 2012

The Parsons' Masters in Design Studies Programme

"Design studies (like design) is a multifarious enterprise. A branch of the humanities, it comprises a wide range of critical perspectives on the meanings and values embodied in objects and places. It examines the forces that design exerts in, and on, the world – forces design sets in motion but does not control. Parsons' Masters in Design Studies program places particular emphasis on four points: the role of the designer and the design studio in redefining the scope of practice in the 21st century; design as an iteration of aesthetic and intellectual histories that continue to inform the present; the social, political and environmental behaviors and consequences of designing objects, places, situations, and systems today; design as the projection of different futures.

Above all, the MA Design Studies program focuses on the development of articulate, critical voices that can speak to these issues. Students will be prepared to write for the academic context, the design community, and the larger public realm. Working in close proximity to MFA studio programs at Parsons, they also have the opportunity to integrate film, video, and other media into their work."

(Susan Yelavich)

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TAGS

21st centuryaestheticsart and design school • branch of humanities • critical perspectivescritical theory • critical voices • critiquecurriculumdesign community • design consequences • design coursedesign futuresdesign responsibilitydesign studiesdesign studiodesigning objectsdifferent futures • environmental behaviours • history of ideas • intellectual histories • MA • MA Design Studies • masters degree • Masters in Design Studies • multifarious enterprise • objects and places • Parsons The New School for Designplacespolitical behaviourrole of the designerscope of practicesocial behavioursocial changestudio programme • Susan Yelavich • visual culture

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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