“Design is in everything we make. But it’s also in between those things.
It’s a mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda and philosophy.”

Erik Adigard

It is true.In a world that is streaming science as the dominant career, Design is only now being recognized, though it was never unheard of.

Typically, people believe Design to be about how something looks. While this is accurate, as it is utilized to change the appearance of things, it is in fact broader than what people see. Digging deeper, it takes some effort to understand that Design is also about how something works. But not just in itself and how it functions within the core, it can also be about how something functions with everything around it.

This is important to recognize that Design is actually a connecting point, one that links to many other fields, thus becoming a vital discipline the world will constantly need.
Perhaps the main reason for undermining this importance, is the lack of exposure, especially in developing countries; a continuing loop hole in their education systems that do not introduce the required thinking for Design.

In the field of Design, this type of thinking is known as “Lateral Thinking”, and it is just as crucial as Vertical thinking (Also known as Linear or Analytical Thinking) which is commonly used in science and business fields.

Lateral thinking is at the core of every branch of Design, be it Interior, Graphic, Fashion or Product Design. Lateral thinking is what leads to Conceptual Design, (to be explained in the next article) which is a term used to refer to all designs that revolve around a Concept, as its basis or foundation. Conceptual Designs cannot emerge if one does not truly grasp the meaning of Lateral Thinking, and consciously or subconsciously utilize it in everyday life. This is how ideas are generated and this is what makes a Good Designer; the interesting ideas he or she comes up with via the use of Lateral Thinking. However, it should be noted that this in no way disregards Vertical Thinking, as a good balance of both Lateral and Vertical Thinking is required to progress as a human being.

Hence, this article is an attempt to introduce Lateral thinking, differentiating it from Vertical Thinking and providing the easiest and simplest ways in which it can be applied in day-to-day life as a means of practice. While it is not an easy subject to come to terms with, with a little effort it can always be developed into a useful skill; essential if one needs to advance in a Design career someday.

Lateral Thinking can be defined as the process of using information to bring about creativity and insight restructuring. Put simply, Lateral Thinking suggests the observation of anything, until the obvious answer is no longer seen. For example, it means looking at a red wall, until a red wall is not seen.

Red Wall

What one sees then, is not a single answer, but an infinite number of answers that arise from it.

Instead of a red wall, one may identify love, hatred, anger, feelings, the ability of colours to impact feelings, the intelligence of people to use the ability of colours to impact feelings, the relationship between red and hunger, the remembrance that most fast food restaurants use red in their interior and exterior, the notion that bright colours such as red, orange and yellow are used to insinuate hunger, the success of fast food restaurants that smartly adopt this technique, the difference if a blue colour wall existed in its place. These are only a few of the answers that can be generated by simply gazing at a red wall. The skill of realizing such answers, each different from the other, is known as Lateral Thinking.

Vertical Thinking
Lateral Thinking
Rightness matters
Richness matters
Selects by excluding pathways
Seeks to open up new pathways
Selects the most promising approach
Generates as many alternative approaches even after finding a promising approach
Moves in a defined direction
Moves in order to generate a direction
Experimentation to prove ideas
Experimentation to change ideas
Sequential steps
Makes jumps
Follows most likely paths
Explores least likely paths

If another example is given, at a glance many would say that the following image displays a mobile phone. Some would say that it is rectangular, thin, light and easy to carry.


But thinking beyond, it becomes a convenient tool that saves time, allowing an easier life. It becomes a device that leaps in communication, bridging the distance, while destroying it simultaneously. It is a device that people choose over other devices that offer the same technology, all because of the governing brand influence. Accordingly, it strongly controls the lives of the people who uses it; a pioneer in creating a domineering lifestyle, and a revolutionary change within the society.By now, it is realized that by thinking in such a manner, one could embark on endless topics. These become research areas to further look in to. In the field of Design this is known as Design Research, which is later exploited to generate concepts that are further developed to create designs based on them. (Conceptual Design)

In conclusion, now it is possible to comprehend the manner in which Design becomes a connecting point. It is never just a creation; Design is composed of everything that borders in between – “A mix of craft, science, storytelling, propaganda and philosophy.”

What do you see

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