In searching for a means to incorporate a higher level of thinking into the graphic design profession, I have been drawn into the holistic approach of contemplative design. The cohesive perspectives shared through collaboration between disciplines create opportunity for innovative products or services.
“I call for more attention to seek a right balance between ‘study’, ‘experience’ and ‘reflection’…as a way to understand more fully the dynamic system of underlying principles at work…Again, this integrated perspective is at the heart of contemplative design.” (Ockerse)
I created a Thesis Mind Map for this topic where I attempt to visually illustrate the difference in current objective thinking, where graphic designer’s focus on technical and object-oriented approach to design and a new subjective approach. The changing role of the graphic design profession as outlined by AIGA Defining the Designer of 2015 indicates a more influential role for designers within the conceptual process. What steps are we taking to meet those changing needs?
Ponder, if you will, the holistic approach to design, a subjective approach much like ethnography and qualitative research. Through contemplative design practices, a multi-discipline team analyzes various perspectives to gain greater awareness. From educational settings through organizational development, contemplative design epitomizes big picture thinking. Graphic designers and other disciplines dynamically collaborate ideas regarding their research, life experiences, and then reflect peripherally to determine correlating patterns of development that improve the end product or service through innovative sustainable solutions.
When multiple disciplines collaborate, they can assimilate and synthesize the relationship between underlying values, ethics, knowledge, and experiences. Within an exceedingly global marketplace, the ability to assimilate new information and experiences with one’s own adds intellectual value and often modifies established norms. Although subjective in nature, assimilation breeds innovation.
Hugh Dubberly emphatically insists, “Drawing and form-giving are not the essence of design. Seeing patterns, making connections, and understanding relationships are.”  By amending educational methods to include case studies, budding graphic designers can learn to research, observe, reflect, and only then create. As technology continues to expand, the required designer competencies will find less focus on object making and a larger focus on system creation and development.
The big picture question is: Can we create a balance between research, experience, and reflection?
 Ockerse, Thomas1. “Learn From The Core Design From The Core.” Visible Language 46.1/2 (2012): 80-93. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 19 Jan. 2013.
 Dubberly, Hugh. “Imagine Design Create.” Dubberly Design Office. Interactions Magazine, 25 Mar. 2011. Web. 20 Jan 2013. <http://www.dubberly.com/articles/imagine_design_create.html>.