Design Frameworks

Course Number



3 Units

This course critically examines the mindset, skillset and toolset associated with design and interweaves readings and presentations on design methods, strategy, and the history of design and technology. Approaching design methods, cultures, and ethics through a triptych of framings (past, present, and future), students will build proficiencies to confidently move across, collage, and innovate their personal and collective design practices.

The course builds essential skills in critical thinking focused specifically on the process of designing and the role of the designer. The course positions the designer at a pivot point between the past and future, devising, as Herbert Simon famously said, “courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” Those preferred future states are always layered on previous “courses of action”—histories generated by the things we design and the ways they in turn impact us—shaping our world and the ways we design for it.

The course approaches this topic by exploring interlinked theoretical and practical frameworks that examine:

  1.     design history and its contexts
  2.     how designers determine preferred future states
  3.     and strategies they use to move toward them

Several concepts spiral through each framework: the dynamics between machine and organizational technologies, the unique roles of making in the design process, and how designing, as a trans-discipline, has the potential to generate new exchanges of value across realms that are economic, social, cultural, etc.

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