Is Design Science?

This question on Quora had me thinking. I think design is not exactly a science but is akin to it in the sense that both are well defined processes.

Science refers to two things:

  1. It is a body of knowledge - a collection of all the scientific facts, theories and laws that mankind have discovered and gathered till today and categorized as physics, chemistry, biology, etc.
  2. It is a process, called The Scientific Method - a set of logical steps that scientists use to arrive at the above mentioned body of knowledge. In short, we understand the world around us using the scientific method.

It is the scientific method with which design finds similarities. Like science, design too is a body of knowledge and also a process. The below diagram illustrates the steps in the scientific method and design method. You could see that the methods are similar.

But design differs from science in two primary aspects:

  1. The primary objective of science is to understand the world around us whereas the primary objective of design is to improve the world around us.
  2. The end product of a scientific method is a theory or law that is absolutely rigorous and independent of people, whereas the end product of a design process is a solution that can always be improved, depending on people.

What do you think?

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