What is Design Thinking and How Does Design Research Help in Shaping Better Designs?


Within the ever-evolving realm of new product and industrial design, the symbiotic relationship between Design Thinking and Design Research is pivotal. These methodologies, often intertwined, play a crucial role in shaping innovative and user-centric designs. In this article, we explore the essence of Design Thinking, unravel the intricacies of the Design Research process, and illustrate how this dynamic duo collaborates to foster groundbreaking designs.

Design Thinking Demystified:

Design Thinking is not just a methodology; it’s a mindset that places human needs and experiences at the forefront of the design process. At its core, Design Thinking involves empathy, ideation, prototyping, and testing. This human-centric approach ensures that designers not only understand the needs of end-users but also empathize with their experiences.

For example, consider the success story of Apple’s iPhone. The seamless integration of hardware and software, the intuitive user interface, and the sleek design are all outcomes of Apple’s commitment to Design Thinking. By understanding user needs and preferences, Apple revolutionized the smartphone industry, setting a benchmark for new product design.

Design Research: The Foundation of Innovation:

Design Research complements Design Thinking by providing the necessary insights to inform the design process. This systematic investigation involves collecting and analyzing data to understand user behaviors, market trends, and technological advancements. Through methods like surveys, interviews, and observational studies, designers gain valuable perspectives that guide their creative endeavors.

Let’s take the example of a company developing a new line of ergonomic office chairs. Through Design Research, the team might discover that modern office workers prioritize comfort, lumbar support, and aesthetic appeal. Armed with this knowledge, designers can integrate these elements into the product, ensuring it meets the specific needs of the target audience. This intersection of Design Research and new product design ensures that industrial design meets the evolving demands of the market.

The Design Research Process:

Define the Problem:

Before embarking on the creative journey, it’s crucial to clearly define the problem at hand. In our ergonomic chair example, the problem might be discomfort and poor posture among office workers.

Conduct Research:

Utilizing a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods, designers gather data. Surveys can reveal broad trends, while interviews provide nuanced insights into individual preferences and pain points. This phase of Design Research is instrumental in guiding the trajectory of new product design.

Analyze Data:

Once data is collected, designers analyze it to identify patterns, preferences, and areas of improvement. This stage helps in forming a comprehensive understanding of user needs, crucial for both industrial design and the overarching concept of design thinking.

Ideation and Prototyping:

Armed with valuable insights, designers enter the ideation phase, brainstorming and conceptualizing solutions. Prototypes are then created to test these ideas in a tangible form. This iterative process is at the heart of industrial design, allowing for the refinement of products to meet user expectations.

User Testing:

Testing prototypes with actual users is a critical step. This iterative process allows designers to refine their ideas based on real-world feedback. It bridges the gap between design thinking and new product design, ensuring that the final product not only meets aesthetic standards but also functions seamlessly in the hands of the end-user.


In the dynamic realm of new product and industrial design, the synergy between Design Thinking and Design Research emerges as a powerful force. Design Thinking, with its emphasis on empathy and innovation, lays the foundation for creative endeavors, while Design Research provides the insights needed to navigate the complexities of user needs and market dynamics.

By embracing both methodologies, designers can not only develop aesthetically pleasing products but also create solutions that resonate with users on a profound level. As the design landscape continues to evolve, the marriage of Design Thinking and Design Research stands as a testament to the limitless possibilities that arise when creativity meets data-driven insights, shaping the future of industrial design and new product design.

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