Where Does Design Thinking Leave Design?

Michelle Douglas, Louise Kiernan, Jonathan Spruce, Annmarie Ryan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


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. This article describes the findings from a conversation session held at DRS2018 which posed the question: Have we reached peak design thinking? Participants were asked to identify with a range of positions on the topic and were then given three questions to provide a constructive debate. The findings point to a lack of a clear distinction between design and Design Thinking, a lack of consensus as to whether a designer is required in the process and also a lack of agreement as to its benefits. In order to prevent a continued backlash against Design Thinking, the findings point to the need for a framework that can outline the clear distinction between design and Design Thinking, whether the designers skills are required and the context and scale of a project that would require design or Design Thinking or both.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIterations: Design Research & Practice Review
Place of Publication Ireland
EditionIssue 8.
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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