Doing Design Thinking: An Ethnography of the Digital Graphic Design Studio
AuthorDorland, AnneMarie Rose Ennis
Committee MemberTepperman, Charles
ClassificationDesign and Decorative Arts
Sociology--Theory and Methods
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractHow do designers do design thinking? The design studio is often held as an epicentre of a new way of thinking about complex problems: design thinking. As such, the studio itself it is frequently appropriated as a model for generating creativity and innovation quickly and reliably. In this research, I describe how the discourse of design thinking is re-shaping the practice of design work from which it takes its name. By examining the effects of the design thinking discourse on the work of a design team, I provide a rich view into the day-to-day workings of communication designers engaged in negotiating the discourse of design thinking in their practice. Drawing on ethnographic observations of client pitches, team brainstorms and daily work in the studio itself, I argue the discourse around design thinking is made visible in the ways that designers engage with clients, with their teams, and in their individual practice. At the studio level, I investigate the ways in which auditing practices and client facing work are shaped by this evolving discourse, and how the discourse of design thinking is mobilized as both a translation device and catalyst for change. At the team level, I demonstrate the challenges introduced by this discourse to teams attempting to reconcile the performative aspects of their work with the mundane but essential labour of cultural production, and how they develop new understandings of what it means to be a designer who makes thoughts, not things. And at the practice level, I examine the surprising role of ambiguity within the daily work of individual members of this community of practice. By examining the development of graphic communications, and the effect of a discourse on a unique social practice of cultural production, I paint a picture of the interplay of routine and adaptation in the work of producing communication design. I conclude by proposing a model of a holistic design mindset: one that incorporates designed thinking, design doing, and design culture with the attitudes, aptitudes and approaches of this occupational culture.
CitationDorland, A. R. E. (2018). Doing design thinking: An ethnography of the digital graphic design studio (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/31949
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