Carnegie Mellon University
ccostes_Masters_Design_2022.pdf.pdf (14.64 MB)

Design with Other Ways of Knowing

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posted on 2022-07-08, 20:20 authored by Christopher Costes

The influence of mechanistic ways of knowing on the field of design puts designers under pressure to shape their performance with metrics, analytics, and other forms of quantifiable observations (Garrett, 2021). However, purely objective measurements stifle design’s ability to provide innovative solutions. As Kees Dorst writes, “To really capture design, we need to consider the problems as situated problems, as they are seen through the eyes of the designer” (Dorst, 2006, p. 11). My thesis addresses this problem by asking how might designers shift their practices beyond the mechanistic and address complexity by embracing other ways of knowing and their non-mechanistic methods, expanded perceptions, and processes for generating dynamic experiences? I addressed this question through secondary research, which examined current problems within the design landscape and possible solutions from other ways of knowing. This secondary research was followed by primary research, a survey completed by 50 designers to understand designers existing feelings toward different ways of knowing, and 13 interviews with design professionals already practicing other ways of knowing to understand existing solutions.

These research activities resulted in three artifacts built to shift a designer’s practice beyond the mechanistic by applying other ways of knowing. The first artifact, Shifting Perception Cards, provided a framework for designers to use other ways of knowing, expanding perceptions, and dynamic experiences. The second artifact, a manifesto entitled “Manifesto for Design as Magic,” called designers to change their thinking toward mechanistic and other ways of knowing. The third artifact, a guidebook called “Designing with Other Ways of Knowing,” introduced 13 principles for aligning with other ways of knowing to contrast common mechanistic principles in design. Together these three artifacts constituted divergent and non-linear methods from other ways of knowing and presented three different opportunities for designers to create innovative designs.




Degree Type

  • Master's Thesis


  • Design

Degree Name

  • Master of Design (MDes)


Molly Steenson

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