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Exposing the Magic of Design: A Practitioner's Guide to the Methods and Theory of Synthesis [Hardcover]

Jon Kolko

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Book Description

Feb. 11 2011 0199744335 978-0199744336
As the world deals with increasing complexity - in issues of sustainability, finance, culture and technology - business and governments are searching for a form of problem solving that can deal with the unprecedented levels of ambiguity and chaos. Traditional "linear thinking" has been disparaged by the popular media as being inadequate for dealing with the global economic crisis. Standard forms of marketing and product development have been rejected by businesses who need to find a way to stay competitive in a global economy. Yet little has been offered as an alternative. It is not enough to demand that someone "be more innovative" without giving him the tools to succeed. Design synthesis is a way of thinking about complicated, multifaceted problems of this scale with a repeatable degree of success. Design synthesis methods can be applied in business, with the goal of producing new and compelling products and services, and they can be applied in government, with the goal of changing culture and bettering society. In both contexts, however, there is a need for speed and for aggressive action. This text is immediately relevant, and is more relevant than ever, as we acknowledge and continually reference a feeling of an impending and massive change. Simply, this text is intended to act as a practitioner's guide to exposing the magic of design. There are three simple goals for this text: The first goal is to present a theory of design synthesis in a simple and concise manner. This theory is based on academic research and discourse, but presented in a way that is clear and valuable to a practicing design manager, designer or design researcher. This theory of design synthesis can then be used to substantiate single methods of synthesis. The second goal is to offer a rationalization of why design synthesis is important, both in a general sense ("why should I care about this at all?") as well as in a more immediate sense ("why should I care about this right now?"). The final goal is to present a set of actionable, learnable methods for design synthesis that can be applied to any design problem. Practicing industrial designers, interaction designers, interface designers, and designers of other disciplines can use these methods to make sense of complicated design problems and to move seamlessly from various forms of research to design. The methods can add a systematic sense of rigor to an otherwise subjective, often introspective process.

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Product Description


Exposing the Magic of Design fits perfectly into a long-empty slot on the bookshelves of practitioners and students. His theory of synthesis will engage your brain six ways from Sunday, while the practical, actionable methods will change your process immediately. We have needed this book!

Steve Portigal
Principal, Portigal Consulting

Structured in three logical parts - theory, business value, and practical guidelines - Kolko's book is a must-read for those looking for a clear explanation of how to move from design research to design solutions.

Mark Vanderbeeken
Senior Partner, Experientia

"...design students, practitioners of design in all disciplines dealing with product development, and business owners have much to gain from reading this volume." -- PsycCRITIQUES

About the Author

Jon Kolko is an Associate Creative Director at frog design and the Founder and Director of Austin Center for Design, an educational institution in Texas. He has worked extensively in the professional world of interaction design, solving the problems of Fortune 500 clients. Prior to working at frog, Kolko was a Professor of Interaction and Industrial Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he was instrumental in shaping the Interaction and Industrial Design undergraduate and graduate programs. Kolko sits on the Board of Directors for the Interaction Design Association, and is the Editor-in-Chief of interactions magazine, published by the ACM.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that practices what it preaches Feb. 1 2011
By David W. Gray - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent book that provides what most books don't: theory and principles backed up by practical examples and clear guidance on how to execute. It's a book for those who not only want to understand but want to do. "Exposing the Magic of Design" will help those who want to create design-centric organizations and lead their industries.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not worth for price and Feb. 23 2011
By BizDiz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jon is recycling his old essays/articles in a book form. I was highly disappointed after 1 year of waiting to read this book. You can find better articles/info on net for free. I would give him 1 and half stars rating to cover design synthesis in his book.
I bought this book based on Jon's and Oxford's reputation. However, both failed terribly to deliver a value. Not worth spending $36 for 2 or 3 good articles that you can get on internet for free. I would give 3 stars if they set price less than $10.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic work. April 12 2014
By zaxmyth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
very valuable collection of ideas and methods for making synthesis a meaningful, repeatable and explainable part of the design process.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Straightforward and easy to read Feb. 17 2014
By A. Fineman - Published on Amazon.com
I've read a lot of articles, blog posts, etc. on topics related to this, and I give Mr. Kolko a lot of credit for being concise, straightforward, and as concrete as possible in most sections.

I think the book would be very useful to someone who is interested in a career in design research, but wants to learn what it entails exactly. There are several case studies written by people in industry about methods they use in business.
1.0 out of 5 stars WARNING! I returned this e-book because it was not ... Oct. 21 2014
By T.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
WARNING! I returned this e-book because it was not compatible with any of my Kindle devices--a DX or 2nd-gen, Kindle. It was only compatible with Kindle for PC. If I wanted to read on my desktop, I wouldn't have bought a Kindle in the first place. I only discovered this when I tried to Manage my Content.

One star for the incompatibility--no reflection on the content. (I thought the content would be OK, so I bought the book :) .) I'd appreciate some kind of warning somewhere on the page...and hope this doesn't happen again.

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