Design thinking between rationalism and romanticism—a historical overview of competing visions

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Ida Engholm
Karen Lisa Salamon


This article presents a longue durée history of design thinking with particular focus on recurrent ideological tug-of-war between two competing visions: Enlightenment ideals of logic, rationality and civic order against Romanticist ideals of artistic creativity and social change. Drawing on design history and cultural studies, the authors present a broad overview of more than 200 years of developments in European and North American design thinking, from the rise of design as a profession to the formation of a science of design. The article contributes to the history of design thinking by presenting the influence of specific, sociocultural configurations on design culture.

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