“we’ll need to move beyond a use of design to handle aesthetic problems and tap into the power of design to solve for meaning.”

A quote from a great piece at Fast Company about how design thinking can help prevent another mortgage bubble.

The really great article above talks about continuums process of moving into a problem that was initially a graphic design problem and realizing that what they had was actually “a service design problem posing as a graphic design problem.”

I think that this is extremely crucial in looking at how design is changing. There was a really great interview with Hugh Dubberly where Dubberly talked about the nature of design needing to change, and that design practice was not growing. Part of this was because we needed to move design out of the art school and put it next to business, law, medicine, science. Its a really great read.

But this brings back this really interesting challenge of how do we actually understand the problems that we are working with. There was a great discussion happening in an earlier post where I asked the question “are we designing away designers?” Because it seemed to me that as service and social designers began to work with more organizations outside of design, the tools were being re-appropriated and designers were becoming obsolete. However, the comments were rather hopeful, in that there was an urge that the tools would spread because this would democratize design and lead to better problem solving all around.

That scenario also lead to the idea that perhaps once the tools of design were used, designers would be left with the choice to work on the more difficult problems of society.

The article at Fast Company, begins to hint at the fact that we already have the chance to start tackling these more difficult problems if we simply start to rethink the questions that we are asking. The case study shows a great example in which the graphic design problem was just a surface level problem and that reframing the question allowed the designers to really begin to look at the larger deeper causes behind home purchasing and the problems therein.

What I wonder is how do we do that consistently. I have recently been on Sparked.com a website where people can help nonprofits from home in their spare time, and I look at many of the problems that these Nonprofits have and it seems to me that i am more often questioning the assumptions they made in order to get to the problem that they posed. We could have many service design problems posing under graphic design problems.

How do we uncover them?

Is part of the solution, the accelerated spread of design tools to other disciplines so that at least the companies that come to us for help, have a better understanding of the problem?