How Art Informed My Design Career : Part 2

A closer look at my two Weapons of Intelligent and Kickass Intervention

Antara Basu
4 min readApr 28, 2022

In Part 1, I wrote about my experience with understanding Art and Design as two starkly different fields that overlap and link in curious ways. I also spoke about Process and why it is important in the creative field and otherwise. I would strongly recommend reading Part 1 first, so that you have all the context you need. For Part 2, I’ll be detailing two kinds of thinking tools that have helped me formulate my Creative process.

Photo by Vansh Sharma on Pexels

Art Thinking

“How can we become more human? How can microbes safe (sic) the earth? How can we co-exist with technology as our second nature? Artists have always understood the power of questions. They transcend from spiritual to material, function to form, natural science to social science, in search of a best match of a theme, medium and expression.”

Excerpt: Art Thinking, Hideaki Ogawa, ARS Electronica Futurelab (1)

In my view, one of the most defining characteristics of an artist is the way they perceive the world around them. I have caught myself questioning and probing factors in my mind and environment, when answers are neither at hand nor have any bearing on my life. Art Thinking employs a controlled curiosity and a thirst to show humanity (whoever will care to look) what they often miss right under their noses. One of the time-honoured methodologies in Art Thinking that I’ve come to adopt is the good old observation-empathy-inquiry trifecta.

In the relatively short span of my career thus far, I’ve been able to implement Art Thinking in areas outside of traditional art practice and have come out with fascinating insights that have both informed my design practice and resonated with me at a deeper, more emotional level. Art Thinking has taught me to question everything I see, hear or think I understand, inquire deeply and enlist my empathic self to unpack the human element that accompanies every interaction. This will be important later.

Art Thinking tends to lead the thinker towards divergent conclusions and subjective insights that are often difficult to quantify. This naturally starts to make it seem counterproductive when dealing with questions and problems that require more concrete answers and solutions. I would not go so far as to say that this form of thinking can be manipulated in such a way that you can ask cloudy questions, meditate for a few hours and achieve an enlightened solution. Where Art Thinking shines brightest is in yielding inspiration. This will also be important later.

Design Thinking

Source: “Art Thinking.” Ars Electronica Futurelab

I recently started reading Creative Confidence, a book written by David and Tom Kelley, brothers and Co-Founders of IDEO. One of the first concepts the book dives into is Design Thinking, which they describe as a human-centred methodology to design, innovate and build. IDEO’s articulated brand of Design Thinking described in the book is informed by 3 factors — Feasibility (“Coolness” alone will not take you far), Viability (Business and economic factors) and Desirability (the human factor). These 3 factors are employed over a structured 4-step process (Process!) of Design-driven Innovation:

  1. Inspiration: A no-holds-barred exploration of the world around you or the experience of the target group. Use empathy to uncover valuable interactions and potential insights.
  2. Synthesis: Organising/categorising the explorations and observations to find patterns, connections and parallels that help illuminate possible interventions and ways to intervene.
  3. Experimentation: Prototypes! Iterations! They say you may scrap 50 ideas before you arrive at The One.
  4. Implementation: Refine and plan. Take your work from your desk to the outside world and choose how you want to influence the way people make contact and then interface with it.
Post Its stuck on a blue wall during desgin thinking process
Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

The Kelleys’ articulation of Design Thinking is highly valuable because it illustrates a lesser understood feature of Design Thinking- it is not only useful for the “creative/artistic types”. It can help managers and employers, teachers and engineers alike, to a very high degree. I consider Design Thinking to be one of the most powerful tools in my arsenal. It introduces structure into my thought process, without hampering creativity and ideation.

(The above paragraphs are a very condensed and simplified version of the methodologies described in Creative Confidence. I would massively recommend reading this book for a deeper foray into these methodologies and how they can be applied in your line of work.)

Art Thinking and Design Thinking are two separate tools that serve two separate purposes. There is no formula to contextually apply them, or to force fit both in a given situation. In Part 3, I will relate how my creative journey enabled me to take from both these tools and apply them in a way that complements both. Two processes come together to form my “Superprocess”.


  1. Ogawa, Hideaki. “Art Thinking.” Ars Electronica Futurelab, Accessed 29 Mar. 2022.



Antara Basu

I write about Graphic Design, Product Design and my unruly emotions. Peruse my thoughts here, or see my work at