Design, Empathy, Interpretation: Toward Interpretive Design Research (Design Thinking, Design Theory)
A new, empathic approach to design research, drawn from the informed experiences of a leading design research program in Finland.
Design, Empathy, Interpretation tells the story of empathic design, a design research program at Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, that has developed an interpretive approach to design over the past twenty years. As one of the leaders of the Helsinki group, Ilpo Koskinen draws on his own experiences to offer readers a general intellectual and professional history of design research, and argues for what he calls an interpretive approach. Design, Empathy, Interpretation shows how the group has created connections all across the globe, and how a seemingly soft approach to design research can be useful in both industry and government.
Koskinen follows design research’s transformation from questions of usability, in the 1980s, through to the revolution in personal electronics and the “user-centered” turn of the 1990s. Using the research community in Helsinki as a case study, and moving between specific projects and theoretical debates, he offers readers a focused introduction to the major methodological and intellectual challenges—as well as the opportunities—of design research. He argues that all design tasks, however simple or complex, begin with understanding the way humans ascribe meaning, both as individuals and as actors in complex societies. Thus all design research must be interpretive at its core.A new, empathic approach to design research, drawn from the informed experiences of a leading design research program in Finland.