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Recent Studies at Faculty of Design

Design thinking will change XX

By Associate Professor Yasuyuki Hirai,
Special Advisor to the Dean, Faculty of Design, Kyushu University

What is "design thinking"?

 "Design thinking" is a concept that has been promoted by the Silicon Valley-based global design company IDEO. Based on my experience of working at IDEO as a design consultant, I incorporate this design thinking into my education and research. 


 When we think of our lives today, we are unable to disconnect from the social issues that the world is currently confronting, such as environmental problems and the low birth rate and aging society problem. Design thinking is attracting attention as a method to identify these kinds of social issues and help to solve them through innovation. Design thinking is for identifying problems such as "creating 1 from 0", which are difficult to consider with logical thinking alone.


 In design thinking, issues are not just solved technologically, but are considered based on mainly human (desirability), business (viability), and technology (feasibility) aspects together. Design thinking is also unlike traditional design such as model-making. What's special about design thinking is that it uses the design methods that have been cultivated until this point in the design world, such as "visualization" through the sketching of ideas, and "prototyping" through quickly making prototypes with the tools at hand, and joins people with a diverse range of expertise and background work together to creatively identify and solve problems.

 IDEO founder and Stanford University Professor David Kelley established the, which practices design thinking, at Stanford University in 2006. It's from this that design thinking began to be applied in university education.


 Design thinking has even been adopted as an educational program in Japan, beginning with Tokyo University's, and including other programs such as Keio University's SDM (System Design Management.) In the 2013 Science & Technology White Paper it was suggested that the proficiency of science and technology innovation talent was based "not in a specific field of study, but the ability to aim to solve problems across an extensive range of fields and implement the required actions in real life", and one example of how to raise this kind of talent was given as "education based on design thinking." Though similar to active running, the points up to the visualization of solution strategies, such as prototyping, differ.

Faculty of Design activities

 At the Faculty of Design, we use this design thinking approach as an engine to power our "Kyushu University Global Design Education & Research Hub" projects. Focusing on location, which is split into the 3 levels of international, regional, and on campus, these projects promote research and educational activities over a cross-sectional area that connects parties within and outside of the department.


 With the aim of constructing an international design research and education network, we have connections to top class design institutions such as Aalto University in Finland and the Royal College of Art in the UK through academic exchange partnerships and carry out joint educational programs that put design thinking into practice.


 "Global Design Project"

 Together with the Media Lab at Aalto University, we're carrying out a global design project that thinks about the future in the year 2040. 20 students from all over the university attend these lectures that we jointly run with Robert Huang / The Entrepreneurship Center (QREC), and we will be holding the final presentation at Aalto University in February next year.

「Workspace 2020 Japan」

We have been working jointly on a project together with the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences with the theme of "Japanese Workspace Design in 2020".


 At the regional level, we have been conducting projects that put design thinking into practice with regional administrative bodies and businesses, starting with Fukuoka City.


"COI Social Inclusion from the Perspective of the Elderly"

 This is a joint government and academic project by Kyushu University, Kitakyushu Institute for the Advancement of Industry Science & Technology (FAIS), and Uchiyama Holdings, which develop nursing programs. In 2014, it was selected for MEXT's University-level Seeds / Needs Creation & Reinforcement Support Project (COI Visions Discussion Program). Beginning with the residents in elderly people's institutions, the awareness of the stakeholders associated with nursing institutions was sought after and analyzed and a design developed for a communication tool that the care manager can use in reality.

 "Fukuoka City Aid Project Universal City / Fukuoka Design Workshop"


 This workshop is part of the "Universal Fukuoka City" project that aims to promote the city of Fukuoka and has adopted the theme of "food". It is aimed at the currently increasing numbers of international visitors who are coming to the city.

On Campus

 We are actively promoting joint projects with other departments.


 "Strategic Design Thinking"
Educational activities that put design thinking into use were selected as part of MEXT's Enhancing Development of Global Entrepreneur Program (commonly known as the EDGE Program.) "Strategic Design Thinking" is one of these activities and is a lecture carried out jointly with the QREC. These lessons are centered around the theme of "Designing the Future of Fukuoka" and are carried out in a workshop format to which design consultants from IDEO Tokyo are invited. 20 students from across the whole university and 20 students from the School of Design participate in these lectures.

 At the Faculty of Design, we promote "global design education and research center projects". If you are able to collaborate with us on design thinking, then please feel free to get in touch. 


 [Contact Details]

Special Advisor to the Dean, Faculty of Design, Kyushu University
Design Strategy Department Associate Professor Yasuyuki Hirai
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Last updated:          2015-11-09 10:17