Harold G. Nelson

The Design Way: Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World 2nd Edition, MIT Press

The Design Way: Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World

Humans did not discover fire--they designed it. Design is not defined by software programs, blueprints, or font choice. When we create new things--technologies, organizations, processes, systems, environments, ways of thinking--we engage in design. With this expansive view of design as their premise, in The Design Way, Harold Nelson and Erik Stolterman make the case for design as its own culture of inquiry and action. They offer not a recipe for design practice or theorizing but a formulation of design culture’s fundamental core of ideas. These ideas--which form “the design way”--are applicable to an infinite variety of design domains, from such traditional fields as architecture and graphic design to such nontraditional design areas as organizational, educational, interaction and healthcare design.
Nelson and Stolterman present design culture in terms of foundations (first principles), fundamentals (core concepts), and metaphysics, and then discuss these issues from both learner’s and practitioner’s perspectives. The text of this second edition is accompanied by new detailed images, “schemas” that visualize, conceptualize, and structure the authors’ understanding of design inquiry. This text itself has been revised and expanded throughout, in part in response to reader feedback.

Selected Works

Design Theory/ Philosophy
The Design WayA book that lays out the fundamental concepts of design culture and outlines a design-driven way to approach the world.
Journal Article
This article introduces design and systems thinking as a means for redesigning organizations and institutions
This article introduces the importance and challenge of creating a culture of design.

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