Design in 5D: Design Thinking in Action

Sami Nerenburg has a great post over at Core77 called Dimensions of Design.

Nerenburg argues that design is much more than graphic or industrial design.  Certainly, the rest of the world is discovering the value of thinking like a designer.  Arnold Wasserman said at his lecture a couple of weeks ago at Carnegie Mellon that ‘design is too important to be left to the designers.’

Sami breaks design into dimensions:

2D: lives in the x-y axis including graphic design and images
3D: lives in the x-y-z axis with products
4D: when you add the human element you get systems, services, and experiences
5D: and when you apply this over time, you get the 5th dimension of strategy

I like this way of thinking about it.  It’s really about applying creativity to all of these activities.

In a conversation with a potential client today, we talked about some of the ways we find customers to study for product development projects.

There really isn’t a set way, but we’ve adapted a bunch of methods for getting into user’s environments and encouraging people let us observe them.  Sometimes we pay people.  Sometimes we share data about what we’ve learned.  Sometimes we appeal to them by mail to keep a photo diary for us.  It really depends on the people we’re studying and what we thing we want to learn about them.

The person I was talking to said, ‘So essentially, you’re applying the same creativity to finding research participants that you do to design.’

What a great observation on his part!  That’s exactly what it is.  A willingness to experiment–not just on designs, but on every kind of problem.  We’ve  build a culture that allows for trying new things and adapting to what we learn.  That is design, and design thinking, in action.

10 thoughts on “Design in 5D: Design Thinking in Action

  1. This is rubbish. The third dimension is space on the x,y,z axis and the fourth dimension is time. As scientists and engineers you cannot corrupt definitions. You have to be exact with meanings. As designers we now have more readily the aspect time. In a 3D model we can insert time the 4th Dimension to see the interaction between communicating components. Through animation we can see how loads and stresses effect these said components in a working environment.

    This will better commincate ideas for maintenance, and plant impovement strategies

  2. Dear John,

    What is tehe problem about thinking different?
    The most and important engineers and scientist became famous people
    The 6D will be the next step!!!>>>>

  3. it’s just another example of thinking about the stuff people do every day and making it sound academic isn’t it – if you’re doing a masters on it, why not go the extra step and come up with your own philosophy of design and cross link it to the principles of an MBA or something equally fashionable – to really make it sound expensive (have MBAs gone out of fashion yet?)

    • Dear Dave

      Much of the current commentary surrounding Immersive Design, Augmented Design or “Design in 5D” if you so wish is all marketing hype, froth and flimflam.

      Sami Nerenburg argues that design is much more than graphic or industrial design. Nerenberg then goes on to break design into dimensions:-
      2D: lives in the x-y axis including graphic design and images
      3D: lives in the x-y-z axis with product.
      4D: when you add the human element you get systems, services, and experiences
      5D: and when you apply this over time, you get the 5th dimension of strategy’

      The notion expounded above is poor. In a technical and scientific context such as design one has to be accurate in defining meaning and cannot be allowed corrupt nomenclature as above.

      We have four known dimensions 2 and 3 dimensional space and the 4th dimension, time. Further dimensions only exist in mathematics since at the moment we have no concept of what they would look like and how they would function.

      Nevertheless the term “Immersive Design” does have an endearing notion to it and is quite descriptively correct.

      Given the advancement in computer technology, design engineers now have the luxury of being able to construct designs in 3D space relatively easy. However the most exciting aspect is being to add the 4th dimension of time. This opens up a whole new area of creation and communicating design.

      With the 4th dimension of time it is only a small step to create virtual worlds in which to place 3D computer generated models. In the virtual world they can be animated and can communicate together in an interactive way. Accordingly, one can then build a story line or narrative around these component parts to display an animated scene of how they would function within their own environment.

      In addition there will be means to see how components react in a dynamic scenario showing where operating loads & stress would occur. This would enable more exact design; highlight possible failure modes; and show where future design improvements could or should be made etc. Consequently in a virtual world it should also be possible to demonstrate failure conditions of plant equipment. Where the piece of equipment could be subject to simulated extreme conditions

      Virtual world computer generated simulation should lead to a much deeper understanding of plant and equipment. In particular there should be an increase in yield through greater plant equipment stabilisation. In addition to leading to better maintenance strategies, and a better indication of the why’s & wherefore’s of when equipment should be replaced.

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