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By Kees Dorst, Lucy Kaldor, Lucy Klippan and Rodger Watson
216 pages, softcover, $45.00
Published by BIS Publishers
bispublishers.com

In Designing for the Common Good, the unique perspectives that designers bring to problems are showcased for an audience of urban planners, public safety agencies, real estate developers, transit officials and others. The book is an essential guide to solving problems in the public sector by using design thinking as a tool.

It begins with firsthand accounts that introduce design as an approach to solving the problems that plague today’s urban society. The 21 case studies included in Designing for the Common Good examine how we actually live in the real world: teenagers getting drunk in Sydney’s downtown nightlife district, the creation of a park over a twelve-lane tunnel in Amsterdam, a simplified process to negotiate the bureaucracy at the Department of Motor Vehicles. 

But where Designing for the Common Good really shines is its ability to describe the fundamental processes that underlie its problem-solving methodology. These include how to conduct a research interview, the use of point-and-shoot photography to tell a story, the importance of conducting site visits and building conceptual models to visualize potential solutions. Each of these individual approaches is supported by “frame-creation,” a nine-step process that zooms in to consider the problem in context, zooms out to widen the scope of possible solutions, identifies themes that can be explored, then creates a framework in which these themes can be acted on. For the authors of Designing for the Common Good, there’s no problem so difficult that it can’t be solved once a proper framework is found. —Sam McMillan

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