Knowing the Unknowable: Understanding and Measuring Design Impact across Disciplines and Scale

According to Simon (1988)[1], design is “devis[ing] courses of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones.” In this context, “Good Design” is, on the one hand, subject to the eye of the beholder (the art or craft), and, on the other hand, an indisputable outcome (the science). In either case, “Good Design” comes about through inter-disciplinary Design Innovation, and comprises the integration of people, process, methods, and principles (Camburn, et al., 2017;Tushar, et al., 2020;Sng,et al., 2017)[2-9]. Products, services, systems, or a combination are the result of good design, creating a transformative design impact on community, society, and people’s lives. Design impact can take several forms. Some of these may be quantitative, such as an increase in economic value after a rebranding campaign, improved sustainability, or a greater employee satisfaction after re-designing a workspace.Other forms of impact may be qualitative, such as increased positive sentiments, judgements in ethical sensitivities, and sense of well-being. In the end, Good Design emerges from the designers’ well-articulated ethos, and creates a “Wow” through its impact.

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