Ever wonder what ‘Design Thinking’ is?

EXPLORATION >>> IDEATION >>> EXPERIMENTATION

Most creative-based disciplines operate around a process of iteration and critique. Give a problem to ten architects, and you’ll end up with ten different solutions. Where architectural and design-based solutions find their value is in their ability to withstand criticisms from objective viewers.

Some in academia recognize the value in this method of thinking, and hope to see it expand away from the traditional “creative” disciplines, and into other career fields such as business. To this end, Chris Monson (a former professor of mine) of Mississippi State’s College of Architecture, Art & Design, along with Gerald Nelson of MSU’s Entrepreneurship Center, organized a workshop in an effort to both educate and test the methods involved in Design Thinking. Chris and Gerald organized approximately 20 participants (including myself) from various disciplines and occupations.

Through a series of lectures and exercises, the participants were introduced to design thinking in a way that was engaging and energetic. After a few initial exercises to warm participants up to the design thinking process, individual teams were asked to rethink the McCool Hall atrium. As a central hub for study, socializing, and circulation, this particular architectural feature was a perfect project for the design teams. Each group was asked to explore ways the functionality and experience of the McCool Hall atrium could be improved through a deliberate, controlled design process:

Exploration: The participants were asked to first observe the existing conditions in and around the atrium.. photograph, interview sketch.. Recording and understanding the current experience in a particular place is vital before proposing solutions.

Ideation: Second, the teams began proposed a whole host of possible solutions. From the obvious to the outrageous, “ideating” is a process in which any and all possibilities should be considered, regardless of feasibility.

Experimentation: The final step in the design thinking process is experimentation through “prototyping.” Sketching and building models are essential to the design process. Regardless of accuracy or quality, manifesting ideas in a physical way allows the project team to begin to understand the consequences, both good and bad, of their proposals. Prototyping is meant to be an iterative process. In other words, creating quick models and sketches over and over again eventually leads the project team closer to a solution that is both productive and feasible.

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The workshop itself was conducted by Leticia Britos Cavagnaro of Lime Design, a design thinking consultant whose list of clients include Google, Microsoft, and Oracle.

For more information: www. limedesignassociates.com

Design Thinking Workshop organized by:

Chris Monson of the College of Architecture, Art & Design, and Gerald Nelson of the Entrepreneurship Center

Design Thinking Workshop Official Sponsors:

Entrepreneurship Center and Technology Resource Institute, MSU College of Business, and the MSU College of Architecture, Art + Design

–Neil

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