Campus Units

Industrial Design

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Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date


Conference Title

International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education

Conference Date

September 6 - 7, 2018


London, United Kingdom


Designers are used to solving problems that are given to them, leading them to focus on creating feasible solutions rather than exploring novel perspectives on the presented problems. Creative innovations in problem understanding may lead directly to more innovation solutions. Although problem exploration has been identified as a key process in design thinking, how designers restructure and reframe the problem is not fully examined. The present work aimed to understand how designers intentionally explore variants of problems on the way to solutions. Through an empirical study industrial design students, we documented a high degree of variation in the problem perspectives among the design students working on the same problem. Analysis of qualitative changes in problem perspectives revealed systematic patterns. The results showed a causal relationship between the number of strategies used in reframing the problem and the quality of the solution generated. Evidence for the utility of problem exploration strategies in the problem defining stage is examined and suggestions for their use in design pedagogy are provided.


This conference presentation is published as McKilligan, S., Creeger, S.,(2018). Strategies to redefine the problem exploration space for design innovation. International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, September 6-7, Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College, London, UK: EPDE.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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