Lateral Thinking in Design

December 3, 2008

ideasearching1I just finished reading David Bramston’s new book, Basics Product Design: idea searching. First, I highly recommend the book, both for its writing and the visualizations of product ideas offered in it. The design of the book itself is as striking as the product designs it discusses and shows.

Given my recent posts on the importance of metaphorical understanding in the design of ubiquitous computing devices as well as design research more generally, Bramston’s distinction between literal thinking and lateral thinking in product design caught my attention.

Lateral thinking is a capacity to address conventional thoughts and assumptions related to a particular problem from a different or unorthodox angle…A literal approach to design still requires an imaginative approach, but tends to concentrate on more obvious aspects – a direct interpretation of meaning….In generating ideas for a design it is worthwhile exploring both aspects of literal and lateral thought patterns and, where possible, to instigate a hybrid approach of the thinking methods.

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