Toward a Critical Design Thinking In: Dialectic. A scholarly journal of thought leadership, education and practice in the discipline of visual communication design Link
Design thinking is often praised as a universal tool that can be utilized to address and resolve almost any design problem, even those that are the most complex. Judging by the recent criticism from several key design professionals, design thinking seems ill-suited to confront complex, or so-called ‘wicked’ problems or to facilitate deep thinking. Design thinking falls short of tackling these problems because it only provides ways to empathize with customers, rendering them passive bystanders in the innovation process. In order to address these shortcomings inherent in design thinking, the following discourse introduces deeper critical thinking skills into design thinking, allowing designers in combination with everyday experts to collectively form a political will and act on it. Borrowing from the critical design debate, the new critical design thinking processes developed in response to the growing need for designers to deploy deeper analytical skills to guide their decision-making provides a framework to guide a collective design practice capable of dealing with the complex, multi-faceted nature of current political, economic and social affairs. Rather than sustaining a focus on the development of products and product systems and the means to market them at large scale, designers must now work to shift their practice to create critical meta design tools aimed at solving complex design problems, such as circular design or social design challenges.