23 February 2006

User-centred design becomes transformation design – updated

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Transformation_design
A new design discipline is emerging from groups across the world. It applies traditional design skills in a new way to social and economic issues. It uses the design process as a means for a wide range of disciplines and stakeholders to collaborate. It develops solutions that are practical and desirable. It is an approach that places the individual at the heart of new solutions and builds the capacity to innovate within participating groups.

It could be key to solving many of society’s most complex problems. But the community of practice is small, and its emergence has already caused controversy among those who argue that it’s not design – because here’s the rub: it doesn’t look or feel much like design in the familiar sense of the word. The outputs aren’t always tangible and beautiful, and may be adapted and altered by people as they use them. It is far from the paradigm of the master-designer.

The UK Design Council has just published a paper on transformation design (pdf, 193 kb, 33 pages).

The paper begins to set out the characteristics of the emergent discipline of Transformation Design. It identifies a nascent but growing community of practice. It highlights an under-supply of designers equipped to work in this way. And it explores the market for, and the challenges facing, designers who are starting to work in this new discipline.

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