“Design doesn't look for the truth or the perfect answer. Design looks for a better answer than the current situation.” - Patrick Whitney
Design is not only about the creation of beautiful and functional objects. It weaves together the fabrics of activities, community, traditions, and most importantly people, to bring about remarkable improvements.
The pandemic reminds us that the key problems we face in current situations are often global in nature. They can range from better-fitting masks to containers for vaccines that need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures, and from websites disseminating crucial coronavirus updates to control measures that support quarantine logistics. These are all global problems. Problems that need solutions.
All of these solutions are designed. They do not magically appear overnight out of nothing. A person or a team has examined our requirements and designed the masks, containers, websites and quarantine procedures. Designers have examined the situation, investigated the context, tested the materials, prototyped the products, considered the production logistics… and after many iterations, delivered a solution.
But designers alone are not enough.
We genuinely believe we can come up with better answers when design becomes a social and communicative process. Through braiding together the views and expertise from all stakeholders, co-creation can cut across overlaying boundaries to develop mutually valuable outcomes. Sitting right at the centre of this creative process are the users themselves and their wealth of lived experiences: the user-experts.
Design Thinking is a human-centric design approach drawing inputs from various stakeholders to solve real and complex problems. In this context, a designer’s role is not just to come up with solutions to a fixed question, but to systematically facilitate the framing – and constant re-framing – of the problems, through communication and the sharing of concerns.
Both communication and community can be traced back to the Latin word communis meaning “common, public, general, shared by all or many". Only by working with the community and communicating constantly can we come up with better answers. A better community.
Good design is good community.
Let’s Co-Design for a better and brighter future.
Dr Joseph Wong