Conducting design research in and for a complex world

Authored by: Daniela Sangiorgi , Kakee Scott

The Routledge Companion to Design Research

Print publication date:  October  2014
Online publication date:  October  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415706070
eBook ISBN: 9781315758466
Adobe ISBN: 9781317636250


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Design work today is increasingly moving well beyond the conventional concerns of form, function and style to address difficult societal challenges, a development discussed in much contemporary literature about design (Buchanan 2001; Thackara 2005; Burns et al. 2006; Manzini 2008). The term ‘wicked problems’ has become a popular reference for the kinds of ill-defined, interconnected problems that constantly change dimensions and grow in scale. Such problems typically have no clear solution, responses depend on how situations are framed and interpreted according to the conflicting interests of diverse stakeholders, and interventions can result in problem shifting rather than problem solving. Wicked problems are often related to major contemporary challenges such as those raised by demographic changes, for example, designing for an ageing population, or by climate change, for example, designing for more sustainable consumption behaviours and production systems.

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