Design Thinking and Aesthetic Meaning-Making: Interlaced Means to Engage in Collaborative Knowledge-Building

Year: 2012
Editor: Assoc. Prof. Poul Kyvsgaard Hansen, Professor John Rasmussen, Assoc. Prof. Kaj A. Jřrgensen, Assoc. Prof. Christian Tollestrup
Author: Mithra Zahedi, Tiiu Poldma, Ehsan Baha and Tim Haats
Series: NordDESIGN
Institution: 1: Aalborg University, Denmark; 2: Design Society, United Kingdom
ISBN: 978-87-91831-51-5


Engaging in knowledge building that is collaborative and that integrates design thinking among interdisciplinary teams is increasingly a means to innovate in product and service design and in business. However, the actual ways this might be accomplished are challenging. These questions are important ones for design educators, researchers and practitioners. This paper studies the question from an educational point of view. It examines what happens when two design researchers and educators, one from an industrial design background and the other a design process oriented background, animate a workshop and how the participants roleplaying various stakeholders engage in design thinking, both as a discovery strategy and through the concept of ‘aesthetic meaning-making’. The workshop aims were to improve collaborative design thinking skills and to explore how a team of experts and non-experts interact within a design project to achieve consensus on goals. During the workshop participants became at once users and makers of emergent results. Two of the participants add their perspectives on how, in this scenario-based workshop project, the exchange of knowledge and learning occurred through both their phenomenological experiences and the collaborative inquiry. They also explain how collaboration among their respective teams resulted in their innovative propositions. Design thinking, complex project scenarios, and collaborative inquiry within interdisciplinary teams, in the context of design education, form the framework of this paper. The process is described, both in terms of the theoretical framework that underlies the concepts of meaning-making with users and as a form of engaging in experiential knowledge generation. The theoretical framework and workshop description introduce these concepts and the workshop engagement and results are presented, with perspectives from the workshop creators, the animator and the participants themselves.

Keywords: Collaborative design, design thinking, interdisciplinary teams.


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