The Integration of Design Thinking with Product Design

The Integration of Design Thinking with Product Design 

Thought Leadership

By Qusai Malahmeh, co-founder of menalab

Design thinking is a human-centred approach to problem-solving that emphasises empathy, creativity, and iterative prototyping. It involves understanding user needs, generating ideas, prototyping solutions, and testing them to create innovative and user-friendly products or services. 

In the context of product design with digital fabrication, design thinking plays a crucial role in guiding the development process. Digital fabrication technologies such as 3D printing, CNC machining, laser cutting, and rapid prototyping enable designers to bring their ideas to life quickly and accurately. Design thinking helps in conceptualising designs, refining them based on user feedback, and leveraging digital fabrication tools to create functional prototypes and final products efficiently. The iterative nature of design thinking aligns well with the iterative prototyping capabilities of digital fabrication, allowing for continuous improvement and innovation in product design.

The image is a AI generated


The History of Design Thinking

The contemporary understanding of design theory, process, and practice has been shaped by a multitude of influential factors over the years. Professionals from various fields such as business analysis, engineering, science, and creative disciplines have contributed to the study of methods and processes behind innovation.

While early glimpses of design thinking can be traced back to the 1950s and 1960s, primarily within the context of architecture and engineering, it was during this time that these fields grappled with the rapidly changing environment. World War II also played a pivotal role in shaping strategic thinking, leading to a search for new ways to solve complex problems. This global event fundamentally changed how we approach management, production, and industrial design in the modern world

If you’re just starting your journey into design thinking, you might come across various frameworks that different people perceive in different ways. This diversity is normal and reflects the richness of perspectives within the design thinking process.



Design thinking is a multifaceted concept with different meanings and practical implementations. There’s a wide array of design thinking frameworks and visualisations globally, typically comprising three to seven stages each. 

Before delving into specific frameworks, let’s first outline the fundamental principles that underpin all variations of the design thinking process.

Source: Interaction Design Foundation

Certain traits are common across design thinking processes:

  • Start with empathy. A deep focus on the humans involved will ensure you stay on track and follow the course of action most likely to bring about preferred solutions for individuals, businesses, and society.

  • Reframe the problem or challenge at hand. This helps you gain new perspectives and explore different ways to think about the problem, and allows a more holistic approach towards reaching a preferred solution.

  • Employ divergent styles of thinking initially. This allows participants to generate and explore as many solutions as possible in an open, judgment-free ideation space.

  • Employ convergent styles of thinking at later stages. This will allow your team to isolate, combine, and refine potential solution streams out of your more mature ideas.

  • Create and test prototypes. Solutions that make it through the previous stages get tested further to remove any potential issues.

  • Iterate. You will revisit empathic frames of mind as you progress through the various stages and may redefine the challenge as new knowledge is gathered.

  • The process is all done in a collaborative, multidisciplinary team that leverages the experience and thinking styles of many folks to solve complex problems. It can feel quite chaotic at first if you’re not used to it. However, if done correctly, it can result in emergent solutions that are desirable, feasible, and viable.

Different implementation frameworks or models have different names and numbers of stages, but they all consist of the same principles and all involve points at which you will empathise, reframe, ideate, prototype, and test.

In the next part of this series, we will provide a more in-depth exploration of the design thinking process, focusing on various frameworks commonly used in the field. Stay tuned for an insightful discussion on the practical application of design thinking principles.


Create Your Account Now

Sign up now to stay connected to the UAE ecosystem, access exclusive content & market news, and discover initiatives to unlock opportunities.

You might also like