Designers- Let’s Embrace the Dualist Mindset.

Why it is important and how you can apply this to your design process.

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Left brain vs Right brain — Image by ElisaRiva via Pixabay

Design can be challenging, the problems that we face are demanding more complex solutions, most of the time beyond our own expertise.

Introduce the Dualist Mindset.

A mindset that requires and embraces creativity and analytics, and looks to qualitative and quantitative means to justify our design decisions.

Here’s why the Dualist Mindset is important and how you and I can apply it to our design processes.

1. Our complex world has issues that require complex solutions.

You and I know that our world is becoming more complex. Due to the greater polarisation of ideas and differentiation, people no longer wish to fit into the predefined boxes. We have seen and appreciated a vast array of physical, emotional, gender, interracial, cultural identities.

Individualisation is occurring in our world today. We know that past singular, one-size-fits-all solutions are no longer relevant.

As designers, we have to understand our problems have increased in complexity with the emergence of new factors.

The rise of the use of technology, internet, social media, digitalisation, artificial intelligence, global warming are examples of such factors.

Our problems have become multi-dimensional and increasingly individualised, requiring multi-disciplinary solutions — creative and analytical.

2. Hybrid design careers are on the rise and highly resistant to automation.

Due to the greater awareness and demand for interdisciplinary solutions , hybrid design jobs are on the rise.

Designers who are able to create solutions that scores well on qualitative and quantitative metrics by their target group will be more able to tackle these complex design problems.

Having the expertise in two or more seemingly unrelated fields (data science and architectural design) will allow you to be in a wider design problem and solution space. You can see way more potential solutions that a person who is grounded in one particular field of expertise.

How we can develop the dualist mindset

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

1. Read widely, learn from others + the world

There is no two ways about this, you and I have to read widely in order to begin to see two sides to our world.

Notice how our world is dualistic as well:
Day/night, light/dark, big/small, tall/short, male/female, yes/no…

The key is to be open minded.

Talk to people who are experts in a field that is totally unrelated than yours.

Read books, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos on various topics.

Begin to appreciate numbers and art. Noise and silence.

2. Use the ‘This and That’ strategy

The next step to embrace the Dualist mindset is to apply a new way of looking at design problems. The ‘This and That” strategy is based on the premise that there are two sides to everything. And within the side, there are two more and so on.

When approaching a design problem, ask yourself what is the obvious solution.

Then ask yourself what is the other solution, “that” solution.

Go a step further by trying to identify the various aspects of breaking the “This” and “That” solution into two aspects.

You have found the boundaries that define your solution space.

What is left is to analyse the extremes scenarios (using qualitative and quantitative means).

An example to illustrate is as follows:

Problem: How can we design a solution to end world hunger?

This: By allowing them to have access to food — feed them

That: By trying to make hunger irrelevant — do not feed them

This x This: Feed them directly— but they have to pay back in return

This x That: Feed them directly— we find ways to provide them food for free

That x This: Do not feed them — provide something that supersedes the bodily need for hunger

That x That: Do not feed them — we just don’t do anything

Thank you for reading! Check out my other post on design, will you?

Allow me to introduce myself, I am Gabriel, an architectural designer from Singapore. I am keen on sharing about my thoughts on design and how it can really change the world.

I have just begun writing on Medium. You have just read my second post! have written my first post — Here’s 5 key steps to take in order to become a better designer

I hope this post helps you to see and apply design better in your daily lives. I’d love to hear from you — what do you think about this post? Reach out by commenting below or message me at Gabriel Chek on Instagram and Telegram. I’ll respond.

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Making Architecture Accessible at ARCHLOGBOOK (

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