Design is not only about solving problems but also about finding and appropriately framing them. A problem viewed from the wrong distance (or angle) that considers too many factors or too few factors (or actors) may short-circuit the richer process involved in understanding the core issues. For this reason a designer may, on occassion, need to say to a client that the problem presented is possibly not a problem worth purusing or conversely indentify issues beyond the design brief that could be more valuable and worth pursuing. Design is about imagining the possibilities based on methods that allow for a deep and thorough analysis of the multiple contexts (cultural, social, economic, environmental, etc.) weighed against the constraints (technical, cognitive, economic, ergonomic, etc.)
The design process, while repeatable, is never identical. It generally begins with the active visualization of research to determine patterns and define opportunities; moves on to the conceptualization phase usually involving sketches of some sort (diagrams, storyboards, wireframes, form-giving), proceeds to early mock-ups; and then moves into the first phase of prototyping and testing. The next phase can repeat any of the previous steps in order to get to a slightly higher fidelity prototype that can be further tested to gain ever finer feedback. As a designer I need to manage this process as efficiently as possible and depending on the nature of the project and the number of collaborators, I need to communicate constantly throughout the process.
Designing a physical product like a piece of furniture is different than designing an exhibition that is propelled by a storyline and needs to engage an audience in time and space. Similarly the design of a user-interface or an app will require modifications to the process just described. In every case, however, the iterative nature of the design process remains consistent. Design is about anticipating a range of possible experiences for the user in real time and space. With the emergence of smart products the designer is increasingly called upon to understand multiple scenarios that unfold in time and that leverage multiple systems and modalities. My background in experimental theater, film, and performance art continue to positively inform my design process whether designing products, interfaces, or experiences.