Intersections in Design Thinking and Art Thinking: Towards Interdisciplinary Innovation

Open access


As the problem-solving methodology of design thinking has gained legitimacy in business and educational environments, this article suggests we also think about incorporating “art thinking” into approaches in design pedagogy. To study what skills and techniques can be useful in other disciplines, we can first review the stages of the creative process which are centered around preparation, incubation, ideation, illumination, and evaluation. Within those stages, we can tease out specific elements unique to the artistic process that can be particularly useful, including mindsets of emotional engagement, intuition, and tolerance of ambiguity as well as cognitive strategies such as the use of metacognition, resource banks, generators and constraints, prolonged research, problem-creation, conversation with the work, closure delay, and reflection and thematic coherence. Emphasizing these elements and strategies in design pedagogy can expand possibilities for creativity and innovation.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • AIGA. (2017). AIGA Designer 2025: Why design education should pay attention to trends. Retrieved from

  • Amabile T.M. (1988). A Model of Creativity and Innovation in Organizations. Research in Organizational Behavior 10 123-167.

  • Amabile T. (1996). Creativity in context: Update to the social psychology of creativity. Boulder CO: Westview.

  • Armbruster B. (1989). Metacognition in creativity. In J. Glover R. Ronning & C. R. Reynolds (Eds.) Handbook of creativity (pp. 177-182). New York NY: Plenum.

  • Baer J. (1998). The case for domain specificity of creativity. Creativity research journal 11(2) 173-177.

  • Bauer R. & Eagen W. (2008). Design thinking: Epistemic plurality in management and organization. Aesthesis: International Journal of Art and Aesthetics in Management and Organizational Life 2(3) 568-96.

  • Botella M. Glăveanu V. Zenasni F. Storme M. Myszkowski N. Wolff M. & Lubart T. (2013). How artists create: Creative process and multivariate factors. Learning and Individual Differences 26 161-170.

  • Brown R. (2009). The design of business. Boston MA: Harvard Business Press.

  • Bucciarelli L. (1994). Designing engineers. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

  • Burdick A. (2007). Graduate education: Preparing designers for jobs that don’t exist yet.’. Inspire. Retrieved from

  • Cross N. (1990). The nature and nurture of design ability. Design Studies 11(3) 127-140.

  • Cross N. (2001). Design cognition: Results from protocol and other empirical studies of design activity. In C. Eastman W. Newstatter & M. McCracken (Eds.) Design knowing and learning: Cognition in design education (pp. 79-103). Oxford UK: Elsevier.

  • Cross N. (2010). Design thinking as a form of intelligence. In Proceedings of the 8th Design Thinking Research Symposium (DTRS8) Interpreting Design Thinking Sydney 19-20 October 2010 (pp. 99-105).

  • Cross N. (2011). Design thinking: Understanding how designers think and work. New York NY: Berg.

  • Csikszentmihalyi M. (1996). Creativity. New York NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

  • Darke J. (1979). The primary generator and the design process. Design Studies 1(1) 36-44.

  • Davis M. (2005). Raising the bar for higher education. In S. Heller (Ed.) The Education of a Graphic Designer (pp. 13-18). New York NY: Allworth Press.

  • Davis M. (2015). Interdisciplinarity and the education of the design generalist. In Heller S. (Ed.) The Education of a Graphic Designer (pp. 20-29). New York NY: Allworth Press.

  • Dorland A. (2009). Routinized labour in the graphic design studio. In G. Julier & L. Moor (Eds.) Design and creativity: Policy management and practice (pp. 105-121). New York NY: Berg.

  • Dorst K. (2004). Investigating the nature of design thinking. In Future ground: DRS Conference. Melbourne.

  • Dorst K. & Cross N. (2001). Creativity in the design process: Co-evolution of problemsolution. Design Studies 22(5) 425-437.

  • Dudek S. Z. & Cote R. (1994). Problem finding revisited. In M. A. Runco (Ed.) Problem finding problem solving and creativity (pp. 130-150). Norwood NJ: Ablex.

  • Ericsson K. A. Krampe R. T. & Tesch-Römer C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review 100(3) 363-406.

  • Feist G. J. (1999). Personality in scientific and artistic creativity. In R. Sternberg (Ed.) Handbook of Creativity (pp. 273-296). New York NY: Cambridge University Press.

  • Gardner H. (1993). Creating Minds. New York NY: Basic Books.

  • Getzels J. W. & Csikszentmihalyi M. (1976). The creative vision: A longitudinal study of problem finding in art. New York NY: Wiley.

  • Glăveanu V. Lubart T. Bonnardel N. Botella M. de Biaisi P. M. Desainte-Catherine M. Georgsdottir A. Guillou K. Kurtag G. Mouchiroud C. Storme M. Wojtczuk A. & Zenasni F. (2013). Creativity as action: findings from five creative domains. Frontiers in Psychology 4 176.

  • Gruber H. E. & Wallace D. B. 1999. The case study method and evolving systems approach for understanding unique creative people at work. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.) Handbook of creativity (pp. 93-115). New York: Cambridge University Pres

  • Hargrove R. (2011). Fostering creativity in the design studio: A framework towards effective pedagogical practices. Art Design & Communication in Higher Education 10(1) 7-31. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Hassi L. & Laakso M. (2011 October). Conceptions in design thinking in the design and management discourses. In Proceedings of the 4th World Conference on Design Research IASDR 2011 Delft Netherlands.

  • Hart Research Associates. (2013). It takes more than a major: Employer priorities for college learning and student success. Liberal Education. 99. Retrieved from

  • Jacobs J. (2017). Managing the creative process within graphic design firms: A literature review. Dialectic 1(2) 155-178.

  • Jausovec N. (1994). Metacognition in creative problem solving. In Runco M. (Ed.) Problem finding problem solving and creativity (pp. 77-95). Norwood NJ: Ablex.

  • Johansson-Sköldberg U. Woodilla J. & Çetinkaya M. (2013). Design thinking: Past present and possible futures. Creativity and Innovation Management 22(2) 121-146.

  • John-Steiner V. (1985). Notebooks of the mind. Albuquerque NM: University of New Mexico Press.

  • Kaufman J. C. & Baer J. (Eds.). (2005). Creativity across domains: Faces of the muse. Mahwah NJ: Erlbaum.

  • Kay S. (1991). The figural problem solving and problem finding of professional and semiprofessional artists and nonartists. Creativity Research Journal 4(3) 233-252.

  • Kimbell L. (2011). Rethinking design thinking: Part I. Design and Culture 3(3) 285-306.

  • Kitchner K. S. (1983). Cognition metacognition and epistemic cognition. Human Development 26(4) 222-232.

  • Kozbelt A. Beghetto R. A. & Runco M. A. (2010). Theories of creativity. In J. C. Kaufman & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.) The Cambridge handbook of creativity (pp. 20-47). Cambridge MA: Cambridge University Press.

  • Krathwohl D. (2002). A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An overview. Theory into Practice 41(4) 212-264.

  • Lawson B. (1994). Design in mind. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

  • Lewis S. (2014). The Rise. New York NY: Simon & Shuster.

  • Lindberg T. Noweski C. & Meinel C. (2010). Evolving discourses on design thinking: How design cognition inspires meta-disciplinary creative collaboration. Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research 8(1).

  • Loevinger J. (1987). Paradigms of personality. New York NY: Freeman.

  • Lubart T. I. (2001). Models of the creative process: Past present and future. Creativity Research Journal 13(3-4) 295-308.

  • Mace M. A. (1997). Toward an understanding of creativity through a qualitative appraisal of contemporary art making. Creativity Research Journal 10(2-3) 265-278.

  • Mace M. A. & Ward T. (2002). Modeling the creative process: A grounded theory analysis of creativity in the domain of art making. Creativity Research Journal 14(2) 179-192.

  • Mayer R. E. (1999). Fifty years of creativity research. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.) Handbook of creativity (pp. 449-460). Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • McDonnell J. (2011). Impositions of order: a comparison between design and fine art practices. Design Studies 32(6) 557-572.

  • Moultrie J. & Young A. (2009). Exploratory study of organizational creativity in creative organizations. Creativity and Innovation Management 18(4) 299-314.

  • Neff K. (2003). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity 2(2) 85-101.

  • Osborn A. (1963). Applied imagination: Principles and procedures of creative problem solving. New York NY: Charles Scribner's Sons.

  • Oxman. R. (1999). Educating the designerly thinker. Design Studies 20(2) 105-122.

  • Patrick C. (1937). Creative thought in artists. The Journal of Psychology 4(1) 35-73.

  • Puccio G. J. & Cabra J. F. (2009). Creative problem solving: Past present and future. In T. Rickards M.A. Runco & S. Moger (Eds.) The Routledge companion to creativity (pp. 327-337). New York NY: Routledge.

  • Sapp D. D. (1995). Creative problem‐solving in art: A model for idea inception and image development. The Journal of Creative Behavior 29(3) 173-185. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Simonton D. K. (2004). Creativity as a constrained stochastic process. In R. J. Sternberg E. L. Grigorenko & J. L. Singer (Eds.) Creativity: From potential to realization (pp. 83-101). Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

  • Teixeira C. (2017). Transforming design matters. She Ji: The Journal of Design Economics and Innovation 3(1) 1-2.

  • Tovey M. Ed. (2015). Design pedagogy: Developments in art and design education. New York: Routledge.

  • Turner M. (Ed.) (2006). The artful mind: Cognitive science and the riddle of human creativity. New York NY: Oxford University Press.

  • Walker S. (2004). Understanding the artmaking process: Reflective practice. Art Education 57(3) 6-12.

  • Wakefield J. (1994). Problem finding and empathy in art. In Runco M. (Ed.) Problem finding problem solving and creativity (pp. 99-115). Norwood NJ: Ablex Publishing.

Journal information
Cited By
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 612 352 17
PDF Downloads 511 314 27