Why Deep Cultural Understanding Will Inspire Better Design [PSFK NYC]

Why Deep Cultural Understanding Will Inspire Better Design [PSFK NYC]

Author Bruce Nussbaum presents his book which looks at the ways in which we employ and harness the process of making.

Andrew Vaterlaus-Staby
  • 2 june 2013

Bruce Nussbaum, author of Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect and Inspire, has set about dissecting the process of design creativity. Speaking at PSFK CONFERENCE 2013he began by introducing his theory on the different dogmas of design, and how new ideas come into being. Based on the principle that design is a function of meeting wants, dreams and desires, he began with a quote from economist Frank H. Knight which defines these desires as the following:

The chief thing which the common sense individual wants is not satisfaction for the wants that he has, but more, and better wants.

Which is to say, design is a function of delivering higher order aspirations, above and beyond necessities such as food, water and shelter.

Bruce Nussbaum Dogmas of Design 2

In practice this manifests as three distinct forms–or dogmas–of design. The oldest dogma is the the ‘gift dogma,’ which frames design as a gift from smart creators, which is then presented to consumers. The underlying idea behind this dogma is that people don’t know what they want until you give it to them, but it is hard to always give people something they like. Second, the ‘thinking dogma’ is now the most widespread dogma of design today, which frames design as a process by flipping the gift model around and starting with user needs first, and then relying on innovation to fill those needs. However, the main failing of this dogma is that it struggles to meet higher order needs which are not immediately expressed. Third, the ‘dogma of doing good’ uses design as a philanthropic tool to deliver necessary services to those in need. The problem with this is that the idea of ‘need’ is still defined by the giver and not the recipient.

Finally, Nussbaum pulls from these three points to put forward his own fourth dogma, which he calls the ‘dogma of creativity.’ This dogma looks at replacing ‘needs’ with higher order wants, replacing ’empathy’ with deep cultural understanding, and emphasizing ‘narrative’ over ‘story.’ By using the example of the problem solving process in the movie ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, and CIA’s search for Osama Bin Laden, Nussbaum sheds light on how the dogma of creativity can be used to overcome complex problems where traditional methods of problem solving are not effective, and new solutions must be discovered.

Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect and Inspire

Image Credit – Catalina Kulczar



Fitness Advocate: Paving The Future of Workouts With Audio

Fitness & Sport
Innovation Today

After The Initial Success Of AR Gaming, What Does The Future Hold?

With Pokemon GO earning up to $10m a day, R&D departments are busy searching for the next phase

Arts & Culture Today

The Next Great Art Movement Will Come At The Swipe Of A Finger

An improved app, optimized digital display and monthly art discovery service round out Electric Objects' renewed commitment to democratizing the art world


Get PSFK's Related Report: Innovation Debrief: Boston

See All
Retail Today

A TV Streaming Service Is Designed Just For Kids

Toca TV is a new platform offering thousands of original and curated children's videos for a monthly subscription fee

Travel Today

Bus Stop Transformed Into A Fitness Station For Commuters

Sports drink company Lucozade live-streamed an athletic trainer working out at a stop in Manchester to encourage travelers to get moving

Related Expert

Michelle Phan

cosmetics, e-commerce, online retail, beauty, lifestyle, fashion

Technology Today

Shiseido And Microsoft Have Created A Makeup Filter For Women Who Telecommute

The Japanese cosmetic company built an augmented reality app that works alongside Skype for Business

Mobile Today

Samsung Is Using AR To Help Beachgoers Stay Safe

Pocket Patrol utilizes a phone's camera to promote beach safety and educate people about hidden hazards

Design & Architecture Today

500 Plastic Chairs Used To Create A Recyclable Pavilion

Design agency CODA built a grandoise art piece from simple lawn furniture


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Today

Marketing Experts: Millennials And The Power Of Cool

'Good Is The New Cool' Authors Afdhel Aziz and Bobby Jones share their 7 principles for branding with a social impact

PSFK Labs Today

The Keys For Exceptional Performance On And Off The Field

PSFK Labs' new report highlights five important insights for businesses to perform better than the competition

Retail Today

Exchange Your Old Razors For New Ones At This Bartershop

The subscription-based shaving company lets customers trade their unwanted razors for Harry's brand steel at a temporary New York pop-up

Food Today

A Brewer Has Created The Most Expensive Chips To Snack On

St. Eriks Brewery created crisps made from rare mushrooms to go with its artisan beer, donating all proceeds to charity

Travel Today

Melbourne Hotel Lets Guests Stay In Their Own Chrome Airstream Trailers

Notel is a luxury rooftop with six guest rooms made from vintage 1970s mobile homes

Infants Today

Battery Powered Cradle Will Rock Itself

NoomiNoomi is a clever device that makes it easier to put babies to sleep

Fitness & Sport Today

How Precision Data Can Make Anyone A Better Performer

The Sports Debrief from PSFK Labs looks at how analytic tools are being developed to optimize human performance across all industries

Home Today

You Can Now Buy Furniture From A Daytime TV Show

Home furnishing online retailer Wayfair is partnering with Lifetime to create a shoppable life improvement television program

Social Media Today

Instagram Tool Prevents People From Harming Themselves

A new anonymous reporting option on the social media platform hopes to provide better emotional support for users

No search results found.