ⓘ Design theory


ⓘ Design theory

Design theory is a subfield of design research concerned with various theoretical approaches towards understanding and delineating design principles, design knowledge, and design practice.


1. History

Design theory has been approached and interpreted in many ways, from personal statements of design principles, through constructs of the philosophy of design to a search for a design science.

The essay "Ornament and Crime" by Adolf Loos from 1908 is one of the early principles design-theoretical texts. Others include Le Corbusiers Vers une architecture, and Victor Papaneks Design for the real world 1972.

In a principles approach to design theory, the De Stijl movement promoted a geometrical abstract, "ascetic" form of purism that was limited to functionality. This modernist attitude underpinned the Bauhaus movement. Principles were drawn up for design that were applicable to all areas of modern aesthetics.

For an introduction to the philosophy of design see the article by Per Galle at the Royal Danish Academy.

An example of early design science was Altshullers Theory of inventive problem solving, known as TRIZ, from Russia in the 1940s. Herbert Simons 1969 The sciences of the artificial began a more scientific basis to the study of design. Since then the further development of fields such as design methods, design research, design science and design thinking has promoted a wider understanding of design theory.