Designing for the Unknown

C-K TheoryIf you are up for a challenge to begin learning about design theory then try starting with the wiki page on C-K Theory.  The following Vimeo clip will also help with your explorations:

Designing the unknown | C-K Theory Presentation from CGS Mines ParisTech on Vimeo.

Then step up for a more in-depth exploration of C-K theory by Hatchuel and Weil (2003). This reading will certainly get you thinking about designing for the unknown. These authors have also published real world examples of how this framework can be used to direct the design process. They discuss the process as used by the European Space Agency to assist the design strategy of a new combustion system using Martian CO2 (Hatchuel & Weil, 2004).

I have summarised my engagement with these readings in the image at the top of this post; which is also housed on Flickr. In summary C-K Theory is a design theory or mode of reasoning by which new knowledge and new insights can emerge. So, if we are aiming to design new learning spaces in schools, then by framing our explorations around C-K Theory we will hopefully learn something we did not know at the start of the journey. This is a highly creative approach to which innovation is central and within the context of designing learning spaces can assist the design thinker to seek the unknown.  We have been playing with the idea that many design briefs for school development do not venture into this realm of exploration and innovation.

What if all learning spaces, including classrooms, emerged via a design process that has creativity at its core and resulted in breakthrough solutions? What would the resulting learning spaces look like?

Your comments and personal insights are welcome.



Hatchuel, A., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2004). CK theory in practice: lessons from industrial applications. InDS 32: Proceedings of DESIGN 2004, the 8th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia.

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