From Discovery to Application: What to Expect When Designing with Dilemmas

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Deger Ozkaramanli
Pieter M. A. Desmet
Elif Özcan



Personal dilemmas are inspiring phenomena, which can stimulate design creativity and reflection on users’ goals and values. This paper aims to provide an overview of the main challenges involved in Dilemma-Driven Design (DDD). We first introduce three main activities performed when designing with dilemmas: Identifying dilemmas (discovery), selecting a target dilemma (definition), and generating ideas to address the selected dilemma (application). Next, we present a design case in which thirty novice designers responded to a project briefing in three consecutive workshops. Their experiences were evaluated through a questionnaire and a group discussion, resulting in an overview of five challenges involved in designing with dilemmas and recommendations on how to tackle each challenge. Based on our findings, we discuss how DDD is positioned as an emerging, conflict-inspired design approach. Altogether, this paper acts as an ‘introductory course’ on DDD.

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How to Cite
Ozkaramanli, D., Desmet, P. M. A., & Özcan, E. (2020). From Discovery to Application: What to Expect When Designing with Dilemmas. Diseña, (17), 58–83.
Original articles
Author Biographies

Deger Ozkaramanli, University of Twente

PhD in Industrial Design, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). MSc in Industrial Design, TU Delft. MSc. in Industrial Engineering, University of Miami. BSc in Industrial Engineering, Louisiana State University. She is an Assistant Professor in Human Centered Design at the Department of Design, Production, and Management at the University of Twente. She has developed Dilemma-Driven Design by integrating knowledge from psychology and design theory and methods. Some of her most recent publications are ‘Dilemma-thinking as a Means to Enhance Criticality in Design for Wellbeing’ (in A. Petermans and R. Cain, eds.; Design for Wellbeing: An Applied Approach, Routledge, 2020) and ‘From Teatime Cookies to Rain-pants: Resolving Personal Dilemmas through Design Using three Levels of Concern Conflicts’ (with P. M. A. Desmet and E. Özcan, International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation, Vol. 6, N° 3-4).

Pieter M. A. Desmet, Delft University of Technology


PhD in Design for Emotion, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). MSc in Product Design, TU Delft. BSc in Product Design, TU Delft. He Full Professor at the Department of Human-Centered Design of the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft. His most recent publications include ‘Mood Granularity for Design: Introducing a Holistic Typology of 20 Mood States’ (with H. Xue and S. F. Fokkinga; International Journal of Design, Vol. 14, N° 1); ‘It’s Love, my Friend! Some Reflections on Cultivating the Positive Design Plot’ (in A. Petermans and R. Cain, eds.; Design for Wellbeing: An Applied Approach, Routledge, 2020); and ‘The Same Person is Never the Same: Introducing Mood-stimulated Thought/Action Tendencies for User-centered Design’ (with H. Xue and S. F. Fokkinga; She Ji, Vol. 5, N° 3).

Elif Özcan, Delft University of Technology


PhD in Product Sounds, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). B. in Industrial Design, Middle East Technical University. She is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft, and Care Technology Lead at Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam. She teaches ‘sensory form and experience-driven’ design. She is interested in sound-driven design research in the fields of mobility, space operations, and healthcare. She is the director of the Critical Alarms Lab (CAL), in the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft. Some of her most recent publications include ‘Shaping Critical Care through Sound-driven Innovation: Introduction, Outline, and Research Agenda’ (with W. J. R. Rietdijk and D. Gommers; Intensive Care Medicine, Vol. 46, N° 3);  ‘Uncommon Music Making: The Functional Roles of Music in Design for Healthcare’ (with L. Frankel and J. Stewart; Music and Medicine, Vol. 11, N° 4); and ‘Incorporating Brand Identity in the Design of Auditory Displays: The Case of Toyota Motor Europe’ (with R. van Egmond, A. Gentner, and C. Favart; in M. Filimowicz, ed.; Foundations in Sound Design for Embedded Media, Routledge, 2019).


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