Meaning of Design – Unleash

Meaning of Design

Prof Richard Buchanan said designers have traditionally been asked to solve two main problems: mass manufacturing and mass communication. These are disciplines more commonly known as industrial design and graphic design. He referred to these as the first and second orders of design, in which Hong Kong has been fully literate for some time. It is time for us to move to the third and fourth orders. The third order emerged in the 1960s and encompasses how we design for human interactions with computers, as well as for services and other processes and practices.  The fourth order emerged in the mid 90’s when we realized that it was also possible to design the environment, the systems and the platforms of human interactions.As an example of the fourth order of design, Prof Buchanan said he was greatly inspired by a great American educator John Dewey. He advocated the need for students to learn by doing, making and learning from each other. His methodology was very influential to the whole design community and provided a very different perspective at the way we can educate effectively.



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Professor Buchanan believes we are in a middle of cultural war in education at the moment, a division between the STEM discipline and the creative discipline education. He believes that solving this issue is paramount as the future will depend on it. He defines a model with 3 pillars, bringing STEM education and creative education together.
The 1st pillar is how students have experiences; experiences with nature, experiences with each other and with different kinds of people.
The 2nd pillar is how we bring projects in the curriculum, which is about doing, and being reflective about what we are doing.
The 3rd pillar is design attitude. This concept was developed by Richard’s colleagues at the Weatherhead School of Management. They thought of great management as a kind of design attitude, and they wanted to understand what were the core values that characterize ‘design’. They zeroed in on 5 essential values:
  • The ability to see the whole situation
  • The passion to bring ideas to life
  • The willingness to take risk without fully knowing the outcome in advance
  • The openness to visualization and exploration of all the senses in seeking solutions
  • The ability to empathize with the human side of situations
These core values were tested in many places in the world, highlighting the benefits of a creative education in several areas especially in the “willingness to take risk”.
Professor Buchanan closed by sharing his strong belief that “we must design for everyone!” Creative education, through its 100 years of evolution, can provide a solution for everyone.
Download Prof Buchanan’s slide