Design’s role is much broader than it’s roots; the making of good looking and beautiful things. Strategic value is understood more and more and design is manifesting itself as a solution that involves many different forms. Including intangibles such as strategy and experiences. Design is, and always will be, about problem solving.
Designers have to be able to draw on experience and knowledge from a broad range of disciplines, including social sciences, humanities and the context they’re designing for. One of them, is for the sake of user-centered design, actually designing for the persons that will be using the service or brand. This is highlighting the analytical and conceptual skills every designer should possess. Another is, to be able to solve “problems” in a global, competitive market of products and ideas.
As the contexts become more and more diverse, designers need to dive deeper in such meta-disciplinary studies and training deeply in specific disciplines. They must understand the social sciences and humanities in order to understand the context they have to communicate and work collaboratively with other specialists.
“In the design professions, a problem is given and you have to solve it. However, to solve a given problem well, a designer must learn to think like a scientist rather than a detective.”
This premise goes back to Einstein and Infeld in 1938, they continue;
“The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old questions from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”
The Designer as Problem Solver.
Thinking like a scientist teaches great skills like problem finding (the discovery and formulation of a problem) together with an assigned creative. This way of thinking fosters critical and creative thinking, skills that are unmissable for any kind of designer. Whether they’re designing a website, a brand-identity or new packaging for a chocolate manufacturer. Key in this exercise is formulating a research question, finding the problem, and solving it through design (that looks amazing). That, in my opinion, is the real meaning of a designer.