How Design Theories Support Creativity – An Historical Perspective

Year: 2012
Editor: Duffy, A.; Nagai, Y.; Taura, T.
Author: P. Le Masson; A. Hatchuel; B. Wei
Section: Innovation
Page(s): 273-286


In this paper we analyse the relationship between creativity issues and design theory. Even if these two notions apparently correspond to two different academic fields (psychology, cognitive science and management for creativity; engineering science and logic for design theory), they appear as deeply related when it comes to innovation management. Analyzing three historical moments of design theory building (ratio method in 1850s catching up Germany, 20th century systematic design and 1920s Bauhaus theory), we show that there is a dialectical interplay that links creativity and design theory, articulated on the notion of "fixation effect": creativity identifies fixation effects, that become the targets of new design theories; design theories invent models of thought to overcome them - in turn these design theories might also create new fixation effects that will then be designated by creativity studies. This dialectical interplay leads to regularly invent new ways of managing innovation, ie new ways of managing knowledge, processes and organisations for innovating. We use this framework to analyse recent trends in creativity and design theories.

Keywords: design theory, fixation, history of design theory and creativity


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