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Delft Design Guide

Delft University of Technology has published its methodology on design in a new reader called the “Delft Design Guide”. An earlier version of the reader used to be available online – the new, expanded 2013 edition is in print only. 

By Gabrielle Kennedy /asdf 10-10-2013

The “Delft Design Guide” is first and foremost a guide for problem solving and thus reveals the roots and character of Delft University: a school of engineering.

Delft is the largest and oldest institute of technology in the Netherlands and the birthplace of, for instance, the engineers that with endless dikes and other technical feats made the Low Countries safe for the roaring seas.

The university is highly respected and ranks 69th in the World University Ranking of the Times Higher Education.  

But the other side of the coin is that Delft is not known as a creative hub like the Design Academy Eindhoven (which in turn can’t call itself a university).

This dichotomy in design thinking and education is taken head on by Norbert Roozenburg in his foreword via a quote from Dutch writer Godfried Bomans: “In the realm of the mind a method is comparable to a crutch; the true thinker walks freely.”

“Many designers share his thoughts,” writes Roozenburg, associate editor of the journal Design Studies and the first graduate of the Industrial Design Department of Delft back in 1971. “Good designers seem to need no methods. They tend to attribute their successes to intuition, creativity and expertise, and not to the use of particular methods.”

And of course all of these are important, Roozenburg continues, “but that does not mean that methods have no role to play in design.”  

Thus the book contains a wide range of methods for problem solving at all different stages in the design process – perhaps not methods to arrive at a brilliant, unique design, but methods to solve problems as they arise.

The set-up of the book is very clear. The different methods are divided roughly along the stages a design project will go through: discovering insights into different aspects of the task given, defining the problem and the targeted audience, or developing your solution.

Every method is introduced in just two pages, including illustrations and suggestions for further reading. A student uncertain of the way to proceed might easily find his way out of his problem via this book – and solving problems is a large part of what design is about.

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