Workshop activity 3: The nature of design problems


Just like the problem of a company, a design problem can be approached from many perspectives, levels or scales. You need to raise awareness that a problem can be viewed in different ways and that this will have an effect on how a solution to the problem is developed. 

Similarly, some problems cannot be solved, and some solutions create more problems. Getting across the ‘messiness’ of problems without making it seem too complex or difficult is the challenge. The message should be: Problems may be difficult and complex but there are always ways to go about approaching them.

What you need:


  • A recording of ‘The problem of the problem (Tin opener)’ Prezi
  • Or your own problem of problem Prezi (or video)
Time: 20 min


Present the Problem of the problem Prezi empathetically.

Either show the video: LINK

Or use the Prezi and give your own version of the presentation: 

Associated training activity:

Watch the Prezi. 

Think and make notes of 3 problems that you can identify in the Prezi. Identify problems at three different levels of framing 1 the object itself, 2 zoom in - material and 3 zoom out - system

Think about another problematic object.

Return to one of the problems you obtained from a company in Preparation 1 (or use one of the problem examples in the Company Problem Sheet. Try to identify problems that look ‘in’ and ‘out’ of the company problem. 

Give a presentation to your teaching team. 

Receive feedback to develop your own presentation.

Advanced training activity

Think back to the problems you have come across in any of the workshops you have run Identify examples that demonstrate complex problems where no single solutions existed. Prepare a presentation to show this problem and the range of responses to it created by students.

Think about:

  • Problems that had multiple and very different ‘solutions’ 
  • Problems that led to completely different responses or ideas that took the original problem in an unexpected direction
  • Problems that led to discovery of other problems as an outcome

Last modified: Wednesday, 26 Feb 2020, 15:10