Design Thinking: An Introduction
Tim Brown photograph

Tim Brown
CEO and President, IDEO

In Germany, the word for design literally means form-giving, and that is how many of us think about design. Typically, when we see design in the press, the conversation is focused on style and form, the latest cool contributions to the consumer society. I certainly thought that design was essentially about form when I graduated from seven years of design school in the UK in the mid 1980s. Since then, I have had the good fortune to go on a journey that has convinced me that design is about a lot more than form, and that design thinking is a broad and powerful approach to solving problems and creating new solutions. During this journey, I have also come to realize that many of the great designers of the past also understood and practiced what we today call design thinking, even if not in so many words. That is what this exhibition is about. We are trying to show how design thinking was used in the creation of some of the objects and communications that can be found in the archives of the Cooper-Hewitt. We are also trying, through these examples, to illustrate how you might apply some of these aspects of design thinking to your own creative challenges.

I have also come to realize that many of the great designers of the past also understood and practiced what we today call design thinking, even if not in so many words. That is what this exhibition is about.