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How Designers Think – reflections part (a)

13 February, 2010

I recently finished reading ‘How Designers Think: The design process demystified’ (4th ed.) by Bryan Lawson. It’s been part inspiring, part revealing, part frustrating, part disagreeable, and all thought provoking. Timely too, as I often reflect on my own design thinking process – for myself, and for my job. This post is the first part of my reflections on what I read, discovered and occasionally disagreed with.

My creative process – a macro view

I have been aware for a few years now of what I call, my ‘percolation’ technique (although it just ‘is’ rather than ‘is done’) – I captured this in a post-it in June 2009. I completely rely on and trust technique/process. After a career of designing, and a lifetime propensity towards creativity and creation I just know that if I need an answer or need to create something I will. It might not come to me immediately, but given the trigger it will be resolved. I don’t want to get all ‘The Secret’ and ‘The Force’ on you, but often the trigger attracts additional info when its needed. I trust in this too.

The section in the book about Gestalt thinking (pg. 132) and later on cognitive science (pg. 132) which “accepts that information is activity reorganized and reconstructed in memory rather than passively recorded and recalled” confirmed my ‘percolation’ as a psychologically valid thinking process. In particular the 2) section of my technique.

Later, Lawson discusses GF Kneeler’s five phases of the creative process:

  1. first insight :: formulation of problem
  2. preparation :: conscious attempt at solution
  3. incubation :: no conscious effort
  4. illumination :: sudden emergence of idea
  5. verification :: conscious development

I was struck by how this articulated further my thinking awareness, and was delighted by the parallels and, if I’m honest, a bit disappointed that yet again I discover I am not unique. Tant pis


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