#MACE16: How Designers Think: What Does Curiosity Feel Like?

This week’s lecture topic was revealing because it gave a look into identifying a new paradigm on how to quickly illustrate creative ideas and the tools needed to implement such ideas.  One of the many objectives of a creative thinking process is to think beyond existing boundaries, to awaken curiosity, to break away from rational, conventional ideas and formalised procedures.

As stated in class last week, there are many definitions of creativity. A number of them suggest that creativity is the generation of imaginative new ideas (Newell and Shaw 1972), involving a radical new innovation or solution to a problem, and a radical reformulation of problems.

This week’s lecture was about being curious and looking at familiar objects and seeing them in a new light, viewing things from another person’s perspective and creating a sustainable product or business that looks beyond today.

We also watched an insightful video that sheds more light on how design thinking can help businesses reframe problems in order to solve them by Professor Kees Dorst, Associate Dean (Research) of Design at UTS

 Video Link : https://vimeo.com/12256739

The Design Thinking Process

The Design Thinking Process first defines the problem and then implements the solutions, always with the needs of the user demographic at the core of concept development.  This process focuses on need finding, understanding, creating, thinking, and doing.  At the core of this process is a bias towards action and creation: by creating and testing something, you can continue to learn and improve upon your initial ideas.

The design thinking process consists of these 5 steps:

design thinking2
Source: http://dschool.stanford.edu
  1. EMPATHIZE: Work to fully understand the experience of the user for whom you are designing.  Do this through observation, interaction, and immersing yourself in their experiences.
  2. DEFINE: Process and synthesise the findings from your empathy work in order to form a user point of view that you will address with your design.
  3. IDEATE: Explore a wide variety of possible solutions through generating a large quantity of diverse possible solutions, allowing you to step beyond the obvious and explore a range of ideas.
  4. PROTOTYPE: Transform your ideas into a physical form so that you can experience and interact with them and, in the process, learn and develop more empathy.
  5. TEST: Try out high-resolution products and use observations and feedback to refine prototypes, learn more about the user, and refine your original point of view.

Design Thinking vs Analytical Thinking?

Analytical thinking is said to be an ‘embedded’ part of design thinking. Design thinking is a whole process put in place for the purpose of coming up with a design solution. It requires both strong analytical skills and creativity. While analytical thinking is the ability to read  collected data and make sense of it, identify the problem(s) or trend or insight, whatever the context. Design thinking goes further into how you turn that information you learned into a solution with creativity and design skills.


In order to gain practical experience around this module, we were sent to the field to ask students what are the influencing factors that can influence their decision making when it comes to buying a particular shoe or brand of shoes. This process was necessary since it is very natural to jump to conclusions and make up various problems we imagined in the class.

The  objective of the survey is to consider the factors a person considers when buying a shoe. What interests or habits may play a role in their decisions making process?  

The study carried out was not limited to any given brands of shoes.The study was conducted with 5 male students and 4 female.


The interviews with the students revealed an engaging insight into the world that gender, age, and income difference does affect decision making.

After gathering all the necessary data, we sat down and debriefed and came to a summary conclusion that the students during summer prefer Hush Puppies for school shoes, Vans for sneakers and Nike or Adidas for rubber shoes. Also, the students surveyed focus more on the positive elements of a product while ignoring its disadvantages.

Lesson Learned:

Students buy shoes for a variety of reasons, all of which are related to the strong emotions that are attached to it.

In Class Prototype Activity:

As the culture in every #MACE16 class, the survey carried out was followed up with an open-ended project class prototype activity. My team started off excited and ambitious, deciding to prototype a personalised bedroom slipper. We wanted a product that can elicit useful feedback from users. As seen in the picture below:

Finally,  with the increasing complexity of business, creativity through the generation of ideas that add value is needed in order to solve business problems.


Don’t hesitate to drop any questions or feedback, see you next week!



Reference :

  1. Newell, A. and Shaw, J.C. (1972), “The process of creative thinking”, in A. Newell and H.A. Simon (eds), Human Problem Solving, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, pp. 144-174.
  2. Candy, L. (1997), “Computers and creativity support: knowledge, visualisation and collaboration”, Knowledge-Based Systems, No.10, pp. 3-13.

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