Watch Tim Brown urge designers to think big at TED
Tim Brown says the design profession is preoccupied with creating nifty, fashionable objects — even as pressing questions like clean water access show it has a bigger role to play. He calls for a shift to local, collaborative, participatory “design thinking.”
Tim Brown is the CEO of IDEO, a design firm founded by David Kelley in 1991. Brown carries forward Ideo’s mission of fusing design, business, and social studies to come up with deeply researched, deeply understood designs and ideas. Ideo is the kind of firm that companies turn to when they want a top-down rethink of a business or product — from fast food conglomerates to high tech startups, hospitals to universities. Ideo has designed and prototyped everything from a life-saving portable defibrillator to the defining details at the groundbreaking Prada shop in Manhattan (IDEO designed those famous see-through dressing rooms).
Brown’s new book introduces us to design thinking: Design is not just about creating elegant objects or beautifying the world around us. The best designers match necessity to utility, constraint to possibility, and need to demand. These design thinkers rely on rigorous observations of how we use spaces and the objects and services that occupy them; they discover patterns where others see complexity and confusion; they synthesize new ideas from seemingly disparate fragments; and they convert problems into opportunities. Design thinking is a method in which genius, in the end, is not required.