Transformation Design is not biased concerning the solution’s shape – it’s the new normal design, taking a holistic view and working in transdisciplinary teams. Here’s an example.
When I started my bachelor studies, I lived in a building next to my university and worked in the coffee shop situated in the same building. The nearest supermarket was 10 minutes on foot and I could reach most of my friend’s places in 20 minutes by bike. That’s a very tiny area of daily movement, but it contained all my daily needs, and therefore my need for ability was satisfied. Now I’m doing my master’s degree in another town with higher rents, and so my girlfriend and I inhabit a nice and cheap flat in a small town about 30km away. Now even if the aims of our mobility are the same – get from home to university, to work, to some kind of market, super or not, visit friends – most of these require riding a bike, train, and bike and therefore take a lot longer. Also, the last train back leaves at 10 in the evening.
What we can see after this lengthy example is that there might be several ways to solve needs. For the need to get things I wrote about this earlier, for the situation described above the solutions might be to
- buy a car
- participate in carsharing
- wait till the train company introduces night trains
- find a suitable flat in the city
As you can see, only one of these possible solutions includes a product, yet all of them are obvious. Still, until now you chose what kind of solution you would get by what kind of expert you would ask. The same problem, given to a product designer, a programmer or an insurance agent, would give you a product, a program, or an insurance. So why then doesn’t someone decide on what kind of solution to be found, instead of instantly building stuff to be sold? Well, one answer is of course, because a car company usually doesn’t pay a designer to not design cars. The other answer is, we’re trying to. We as the newly bred transformation designers try to establish a new normal design.
the new approach
This way of designing works by immersing oneself in the problem and integrating stakeholders, which means anyone affected, into the team. In such a team, a broad range of viewpoints can create several ways to understand an issue and lead to a holistic understanding of the problem. And because the phrasing of a problem implies its solution, this gives way to a far broader range of possible solutions, which can then be weighed, compared, altered and selected. Also, a transdisciplinary team incorporates several toolkits, which allows for better construction of solutions.
This goes along with a broader understanding of design as the process of changing an undesirable situation into a better one.