Solving Critical Design Problems: Theory and Practice, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Solving Critical Design Problems

Theory and Practice, 1st Edition

By Tania Allen


218 pages

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pub: 2019-06-18
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Solving Critical Design Problems demonstrates both how design is increasingly used to solve large, complex, modern-day problems and, as a result, how the role of the designer continues to develop in response. With 13 case studies from various fields, including program and product design, Tania Allen shows how types of design thinking, such as systems thinking, metaphorical thinking, and empathy, can be used together with methods, such as brainstorming, design fiction, and prototyping. This book helps you find ways out of your design problems by giving you other ways to look at your ideas, so that your designs make sense in their setting.

Solving Critical Design Problems encourages a design approach that challenges assumptions and allows designers to take on a more critical and creative role. With over 100 images, this book will appeal to students in design studios, industrial and product design, as well as landscape and urban design.


"This book is written from the perspective of an individual who has studied, practiced and taught design. It is the interaction of these experiences that cause her to adopt a Socratic underpinning to the act of design. She inspires the reader to consider the act of design in the context of questions that stimulate thoughts of culture and place to enrich the utilitarian aspects of a design project. This approach opens the path toward inter and transdisciplinary approaches defining the act of design as a means to pose a way of seeing design as a rhetorical activity. It is this connection between the realization of artifacts and the role of design in the definition of culture that distinguishes this book. There is real substance in this monograph for the experienced design professional and it serves as an inside insight for those who are new to the design activity. It is worthy to be required reading in the classroom and is a must read for those who are seeking to understand the design culture."

Marvin J. Malecha, FAIA, DPACSA

President, NewSchool of Architecture and Design, San Diego, California

Table of Contents



Chapter 1: Introduction: Defining the Drivers of Design Theory and Practice

Part 1: Design and Usability: If a Design Falls in the Forest…

Chapter 2: From Universal to Individual Experiences

Chapter 3: Experiential and Adaptive Design Thinking

Chapter 4: Design as Dialogue: Case Studies of Experiential Design Thinking

Part 2: Design and Technology: Not If, But When

Chapter 5: Reciprocity and Impact

Chapter 6: Networked Design Thinking

Chapter 7: Visualizing the Invisible: Case Studies of Networked Design Thinking

Part 3: Design and Sustainability: Killing Messengers

Chapter 8: Paradigm Shifts: Designing Resilient Systems

Chapter 9: Ecological Design Thinking

Chapter 10: Creating Resilient Futures: Case Studies of Ecological Design Thinking

Part 4: Design and Morality: Do the Right Thing

Chapter 11: Making change, Design as Moral Mediator

Chapter 12: Narrative Design Thinking

Chapter 13: Creating Stories Together: Case Studies of Narrative Design Thinking

Chapter 14: Putting it All Together—Design Futures

About the Author

Tania Allen is an Associate Professor of Art and Design and Design Studies at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Design, Drafting, Drawing & Presentation
ARCHITECTURE / Interior Design / General
ARCHITECTURE / Urban & Land Use Planning
ARCHITECTURE / Study & Teaching
ART / General
ART / Study & Teaching
DESIGN / General
DESIGN / Graphic Arts / General
DESIGN / Industrial
DESIGN / Product
DESIGN / Reference
DESIGN / Textile & Costume