CN02 - HAVE WE REACHED PEAK DESIGN THINKING? Are we entering a new paradigm for how it is used within practice and business?

Conveners: Michelle Douglas, Louise Kiernan, Jon Spruce, & Annmarie Ryan

Design Thinking has gained recognition as an acclaimed process for generating innovative, human centred solutions at a social and business level. It has also gained notoriety amongst many designers, who claim that its success as an exported element of the design process has resulted in its commodification, and led to it becoming a diluted series of processes that lack criticality. As design disciplines and the role of designers continue to evolve, we should reflect on design thinking’s original context and understand its progression into a nondesign world. Our hypothesis is that design thinking has reached a ‘peak’ in contemporary practice, and as the term 'design' is further adapted and conformed to suit a business function, this conversation will elicit a constructive debate on the future of design thinking and its positioning within design and non-design industries. Has Design Thinking’s commodification and consumption as a step by step road map to innovation reduced it to a mainstream approach? Or can we use the undoubted successes of design thinking as a catalyst for future design research? It is anticipated that through analysis and discussion, this conversation will inform the conceptualisation of enhanced methodological frameworks that aim to support innovation across divergent industry practices.

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