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Richard Buchanan being interviewed about his 4 orders of design

Q: We’re talking about the expanding uses of design. What areas of design do you focus on in your work?

A: I’m interested in what I call that “the third order of design”.
The first order of design is communication with symbols and images. The second order of design is design of artefacts as in engineering, architecture, and mass production. In the middle of the 20th century we realised that we can also design activities and processes. We work progressively more with these activities and services. That’s the third order of design. In the beginning we called it Human Computer Interaction. Now we work with any kind of interaction – it’s about how people relate to other people. We can design those relationships or the things that support them. It’s this interaction I’m after.

Q: And there’s a fourth order as well?

A: Indeed there is. To me the fourth order of design is the design of the environments and systems within which all the other orders of design exist. Understanding how these systems work, what core ideas hold them together, what ideas and values – that’s a fourth order problem. Both the third and the fourth order are emerging now very strongly.

Some designers have the ability to deal with these very complex questions that lie at the core of our social life. Not every designer, but some have the ability to grasp the ideas and the values at the core of very complicated systems. Those are fourth order designers.

Richard Buchanan being interviewed about his four orders of design

His orders are a great framework for thinking about design. It helps explain why design gets the attention it is getting right now.

Audio registration of Design Thinking with Yves Behar and Tim Brown

Audio registration of Design Thinking with Yves Behar and Tim Brown at the Commonwealth Club of California (march 21 2013) about what a design firm is, what design thinking is and how it’s changing the world.

There are some interesting parts in this regarding the impact of design. How it changed from the design of products to services to systems.

David Bauer in: 2000, the Year Formerly Known as the Future

You wake up at 7am on a wonderful morning in early 2000. Dreamy as you are, you grab your phone to check the news and your email. Well, the news is that no one has texted you while you were sleeping and that your phone doesn’t connect to the internet. Because, well, you don’t have a smartphone. Just like everyone else doesn’t. Actually, a bestselling mobile phone launched in 2000 looked like this. You could still play a round of Snake, though.

After a refreshing shower — pretty much like you remember it from 2013 — you make yourself comfortable at the breakfast table. You’re an early adopter, so you have your laptop right there with you to check the news. While you wait for the computer to start up, you have time to brew some coffee.

Time to check Twitter for the latest…ah well, no Twitter yet. So let’s see what your friends are up to over on Face…doesn’t exist either. Not even MySpace. Heck, not even Friendster.

David Bauer in 2000, the Year Formerly Known as the Future

2000 is only 13 years ago. So many small things changed in our daily rituals and how we keep in touch with people and the world around us.