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Analysis & Synthesis in Design




Leadership & Mediation

Credit Hours


Introduction to the typical process and tools designers use to understand fuzzy problems and develop insightful directions to pursue.

Design analysis is primarily concerned with generating insights that drive the development of new products, services, and communications. Design synthesis is concerned with generating solutions that act on the insights developed in design analysis. These solutions can be a combination of new products, services, interactions, and communications.

This course is an introduction to the typical process and tools designers use to understand fuzzy problems and develop insightful directions to pursue. It will start with a review of different approaches to analysis and synthesis. Students will then work on a real-world project, allowing them to progress through the major phases of the process, including problem framing, creating frameworks for analysis, using existing frameworks for analysis, generating insights, and establishing a point of view.

Learning Objectives

Students enrolled in this course will learn a variety of approaches modes and tools of analysis and synthesis that generate deep insights and innovative solutions. Typical heuristics along with more elaborate and structured approaches will be covered. Both generative, as well as evaluative techniques, will be included to maximize exposure to the field of design and its philosophy.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the role of analysis and synthesis in the design process
  • Outline a range of approaches and methods, highlighting their strengths and weakness
  • Select analysis and synthesis methods appropriate for a client and problem
  • Execute the selected analysis and synthesis methods in the context of a design project

Format & Grading

The class will begin with a lecture that introduces the week’s analysis/synthesis approach. Students (working in small teams that will change each week) will then have the remainder of the class to finish a simple, in-class project to practice and apply the methods. For homework, students will create a critical reflection piece about the methods, including the following content:

  • Best uses of the methods
  • Limitations of the methods
  • Ways to broaden and deepen the methods
  • How I might use them on current and future projects?

For the second half of the semester, students will be assigned to a team with a real-world design problem. The student team will be responsible for assessing the key issues and then selecting the right combination of analysis/synthesis methods to solve the case. The students will then execute the project. The faculty will primarily act as a mentor/coach for this half of the semester.

Enrollment Restrictions

No prerequisites. This course is open to all Institute of Design students.