Blog Task 1: Thinking about Design Thinking…

Here is my desk……

I know, I know, it’s a mess! On the whole though, the area is fine – I’ve got all the necessary equipment; desk, computer, printer, there is a nice window, it’s warm and in a generally bright spot. It’s how the space makes me feel that makes me think this a problem area. It radiates disorganization, makes me feel cramped and confused and I usually find that sitting at this desk for too long makes me feel stressed and end up taking my lap top to another location to work.

So how do I start to redesign this area? If “design is the process that converts ideas into form, whether that is a plan of action or a physical thing. “ (Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. 2012., p. 103). Then surely the most critical aspect of understanding how to design, is understanding the process designers go through to make the intangible, tangible. In other words, it’s about getting inside the thinking of design in order to understand how to do it.

The definitions of design thinking are many and varied. While it seems to be championed by some as a process which can be used by anyone and which may help prepare people to ‘deal with difficult situations and to solve complex problems in school, in their careers and in life in general’ (Razzouk, R., & Shute, V., 2012 p 343), there is also suggestion in the literature that it is ‘not well understood, either by the public or those who claim to practice it’ (Kimbell, L. 2011 p 5).

So why are design thinking and the design process so important? Tim Brown’s assertion that “society needs a new approach to innovation which aligns the needs of human beings and the natural world’ seems to hit the nail on the head. Design thinking is important because leads us to a more ‘human –centered’ design process (Brown 2012) which involves considering needs and ‘consumer experiences’ (brown 2012 p 2). The design process then, allows us to “play, display and watch the re-play” (k Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. 2012., p. 115) or in other words, allowing for a process of ideas generation, trailing, feedback, adjustments, re-trialing and so on.

In the case of my desk, I needed to consider how this space was used, rather than thinking about how a desk space should look and function. The number one thing that I realized from this task is that when I go to my desk space to work, I’m going there to sort through ideas.

So here is what my desk space looks like now

As you can see, I’ve made a few changes….

As you can see, I’ve made a few changes….

I’ve cleaned up the space, attached some brown paper I had lying around to the wall in front of my desk which I can draw on, brainstorm, stick post-its on etc.

To liberate my papers from folders and to have them all easily accessible I’ve put up some string and attached them horizontally using clothes pegs from the washing line.

I’ve also moved the printer right away from the desk to the other side of the room so that I actually have to physically move to use it.

Finally, I’ve moved one of my favorite items next to my desk – the Art Deco vase. Researchers such as Temple (2008), Scott-Webber (2012.) and Boys (2011) suggest that the aesthetics and furnishings in a space do matter and may even have an effect on learning outcomes.



Boys, J. (2011). Towards creative learning spaces: Re-thinking the architecture of post-compulsory education. Routledge.

Brown, T. (2009). Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. Harper Business. p.37.

Doorley, S. & Witthoft, S. (2012) Make space: How to set the stage for creative collaboration. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Kimbell, L. (2011). Rethinking design thinking: Part I. Design and Culture, 3(3), 285-306.

Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in innovation acceleration: Transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson.

Scott-Webber, L. (2012). Institutions, educators, and designers: Wake up!: Current teaching and learning places along with teaching strategies are obsolete-teaching styles and learning spaces must change for 21st-century needs. Planning for Higher Education. 41(1), 265-277.

Temple, P. (2008). Learning spaces in higher education: an under-researched topic. London Review of Education. 6 (3), 229-241.

Razzouk, R., & Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82 (3), 330–348.

Comments on others posts:

This entry was posted in INF530 general, INF536 Assessment Items. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Blog Task 1: Thinking about Design Thinking…

  1. Kelly says:

    Hi Gillian!

    I love that you have used your own personal space for this first task. I have an office for the first time in my life and choose not to use it because it’s cold, quiet and not out with my husband and the pets!! Maybe if I used some of your ideas I might be slightly more inclined to use it…

    I especially love the brown paper idea – I wanted to paint one of the walls with blackboard chalk, but was shut down by hubby (even though he let me paint an orange feature wall!). At least with butcher’s paper I could take it down when I wasn’t using it anymore, but still enjoy the advantage of having somewhere to scribble ideas when brainstorming.

    The evidence and ideas that you have provided for making the changes you have all help to link the design thinking process to this mini design project!
    Well done 🙂

    • says:

      Thanks Kelly! Yeah the taking-down and re-adding of the brown paper idea is what I was thinking too! WE’ll see if this works out – if I can manage to keep it all tidy which is probably my biggest problem! : )

  2. Michelle says:

    That looks so awesome. When doing my assignments last session I was using post its on bigger pieces of paper on the wall but I LOVE the complete covering of the wall. I also love the pegged on notes…mine are usually dumped together in a pile. A really productive learning space. Congrats on being finished post early too!

    • says:

      Thanks Michelle! I am yet to see if I can keep it all tidy but it kinda works for me at the moment – as a visual learner – to organise my thoughts and papers etc…we’ll see though. Cheers!

  3. says:

    Hi Gillian

    Same as Kelly, I also like your brown paper brainstorming idea and I can see as you update your ideas, you probably will replace the brown paper with a whiteboard one day 🙂

    My desk can be like your “before” version and then I give it a big clean and start the circle again… I now have a proper filing cabinet and some essential furniture in my home office. The photo of is is on my Facebook Page

    Also, having a look at how Google organise their staff space will give you some ideas on your future home office development.

    Good luck with your study!


  4. says:

    I love the new design! … and I might steal the butcher’s paper idea, if you don’t mind 🙂

    My desk is pretty much always super organised – perhaps a little OCD about it – but towards the end of each term, the clutter begins to pile up and the disorganisation sets in. It’s like a visual representation of the internal me during that period of time; the me that just can’t be bothered filing anymore; the me that thought it would be a great idea to hang on to every piece of paper distributed during staff meetings (and there is a lot of that); the me that can still find what I’m looking for – I know it’s in THAT pile.

    Getting back to the new design. I’ve become a list maker of late, but I think a brainstorm creator is where it’s at! But – do you miss colour?

    • says:

      Hi Ky – yeah I totally know what you mean about desks being an outer representation of inner chaos! I DO clean up my desk fairly often but it always seems to flow back into this state by the end of a module of work. I LOVE being able to draw directly on the wall but I’m not sure about the string thing….it’s an experiment I guess. Anyways, as for colour…I love colour but for some reason haven’t included any in this – kinda like the simplicity and aesthetic of brown paper black marker….thanks for the prompt to think about that though! I might try it and see how it feels….…….Cheers !

  5. says:

    It is very exciting that you relocated your printer to a spot where you have to physically move to retrieve items. It is too easy to get completely absorbed in the computer and neglect the body, not to mention giving your eyes and brain a quick break. Your quote about “getting inside thinking of design in order to understand how to do it” is a feeling I’ve shared in these introductory readings. These first few modules have really been about have been about dispelling the misconceptions about design and getting in the mindset of embracing its defining elements (Kuratko et al., 2012). Seems like you have the inspiration and proactive aspects conquered. I also appreciated the references you applied concerning aesthetics in spaces and your vase. I plan to delve more into this aspect in my future planning. I’m curious as to what the research says about your nice window and the effects of freeing up your view of the outdoors.

  6. says:

    Gillian, I enjoyed reading your post on your own personal learning space. I am fortunate to have a study at home too. In winter time it is also the clothes drying room and I noticed this bothered me towards the end of last session. I felt hemmed in disliked the mess. I often look and think about learning spaces at school but I now realise the importance of a learning space for myself. Empathy is an important part of the design process (Kimbell, 2011) so that we can understand the perspective of the end user.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *