A Case for Graphic Design Thinking

Part of the Design Research Foundations book series (DERF)


This chapter draws on a range of historical, philosophical and contemporary design references to argue for a broad view of graphic design thinking as a distinct approach to problem-solving. The history of epistemology is linked to the history of modes of communication, and this in turn is intimately tied to the development of textual organization, typographic and diagrammatic representation. Modes of thought and the way we acquire and share knowledge are shown to exist in symbiosis with technological development. In order to help define this mode of thinking, we consider the distinctions and similarities between forms of academic research in the humanities, the sciences, and in design. We also present seven characteristics pertaining to graphic design thinking in particular, making reference to the history and theory of graphic communication as well as to standards of professional practice. The final outcome of this mode of thinking implies action; it is inherently synthetic, generative and future-conscious. Defining and making explicit these seven characteristics puts into sharp relief the potential for graphic design thinking to be a tool of practical and ethical engagement with the world.


Philosophy of design Graphic epistemology Design research Design theory 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Design and Dynamic MediaEmily Carr University of Art + DesignVancouverCanada

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