The Importance of Synthesis during the Process of Design
Jon Kolko | Savannah College of Art and Design
Understanding Design (with a Capital “D”)
Design is the creation of a representational dialogue between people and products, services and systems encountered in everyday human experience (Kolko, 2007). This creation is grounded in a process; the process is a formal approach towards solving problems. These problems can relate to issues of complexity, or emotion, or visual aesthetics, and the solution is often manifested in a formal way.
There are many different flavors and versions of the process of design, but they all seem to encompass an aspect of research, synthesis, creation, and reflection (Zimmerman, Forlizzi, Evansen, 2004). This process, and subsets of the process, are performed iteratively until a solution is identified. Interestingly, the process remains quite similar while the scale and scope of the problem may change; thus, creating a simple object like a vase or building a complicated interface to an aircraft may require the same steps to solve (albeit contained in a much different timeframe and with a vastly different resource allocation). The continuity of this process, and the ability to apply it in a very fluid manner to problems great and small, paints the discipline of design in a unique light alongside science or art. All three subjects have methods, and techniques, and processes, and tools, and in this way all three are the same. Yet each of these disciplines has different methods, techniques, processes, and tools, and in this way they are all unique. The uniqueness has been obvious, perhaps, between science and art, but design has commonly been grouped alongside the other two: “Design is a blend of applied science and art,” or “Design is halfway between the others.” This hybrid placement does not recognize the uniqueness and depth of the subject matter itself, which is, perhaps, the subject matter of humanization of technology (Buchanan, 2000).