Design Theory

You can find some of my articles and statements at, please look at


When we reframe design through a discourse, designing on a meta level, we are actually designing design, as we are giving design a different meaning, changing frame to include or exclude what we do or don’t consider as a part of the field. Therefore we need to frame at first what we understand in speaking about design. And it is far more complex to speak about media design, since it triggers the idea of designing media. Marshall McLuhan’s thoughts on media will help to explore what a media designer actually does; what he designs. However, if the digital media comes into place, the new medium, the digital medium, suddenly is the major carrier of all of society’s messages. How does it change the designer’s work, and does it require a different designer


Designing with a positive lens is inspired by positive psychology, which turns attention away from the treatment of dysfunctions and toward the encouragement of human strengths. I present a positive design method that is inspired by Appreciative Inquiry and draws on a comprehensive theory of design from sculpture. By incorporating a comprehensive theory of sculpture as a guide for designing with a positive lens, we can take advantage of design lessons from the arts, and strengthen the positive design movement in all stages of the design development process. From a theory of sculpture we see that designing includes forming. Forming, in turn, always involves two opposed energies, which can be thought of as a warm and a cold, or an inside and an outside, force. By using a theory of sculpture to guide designing with a positive lens, we reframe our attempts to create new information and organization designs so as to make them achievable even though the positive designer is not an artist. Design thinking and design processes based on a theory of sculpture can ease our dependence on artistic creativity and expand the organizational impact of a positive lens.


The design process ‘To achieve quality of design in a management environment we have to organize the movement and not the shape’. This statements recalls a time when I began to realize that designing of material objects was not enough for me (1), and that idea of founding and designing complex systems or environments for living, working, playing and learning(2), was more exciting and dynamic. Founding and designing a non-profit private institution, an art school, which is now accredited as a University of Applied Sciences was ‘Learning by doing’. In my experience this is typical for a design process; one improves design capabilities by including the experiences ones has just had. Studying the design of a non-profit enterprise in reality, which was conceptualized and constructed through a dialogue between colleagues and myself has advantages and disadvantages. But it would be misleading, if I would give the impression that the method of designing was mainly inductive and dialogue based. Working for years on a ‘theory of sculpture’, gave me the theoretical and analytical concept to understand the implications of actions, i.e. initiating, conceptualizing and, if you want, managing as designing. The enterprise by itself was a research place, where we studied, invented and constructed on a daily basis, including the study of designing an organization and it will not be surprising, that ‘complexity’, ‘chaos’, self organization had been a vocabulary used in order to describe our object of research. ‘The theory of sculpture, as a metaphor to understand design processes’ People who study art and design are visually introduced to a few color theories, only a small number have aver heard about 54 existing theories 3 . Even less know or read about a ‘theory of sculpture’ as an analogue model for the 3 dimensional world. My art and science background generated enough curiosity to ask the question, why such a theory was developed only in the late sixties and whether it is possible to expand such a theory. My research led me to a theory Joseph Beuys developed from the basic principles which alchemists used in the middle age: sal (salt), sulfur and mercury 4). Applying and working with his model, I had to enlarge it further, in order to describe the entire phenomenon I observed and constructed (5). Such a theory, model, or image, metaphor or however we call it doesn’t directly ensure good design, but rather it is like a ‘map of the landscape’ which doesn’t replace the need for a good driving. Such a theory helps to establish conditions we are working with and within. It creates an abstract layer, which allows us to integrate a position of an observer of a second order, which is necessary if we auto surpass a pure subjective reason (6). All the natural and artificial objects, we see and we potentially can think of and perceive and construct, are based on two types of evolutionary structures and an endless sum of in-between qualities, where we find aspects of both extremes. Generating process 1: Objects and conditions, moldable and shapeable, are moving through meta-forms (metamorphosis), continuously changing a form, not adding and subtracting material or complexity. To understand it visually, we can think about wax or clay that goes through many stages of physical properties without adding or subtracting. Generating process 2: In the opposite process, objects and conditions are changed through additive and subtraction in order to reach the state of a new shape whether continuously, or in steps.