Design Thinking has been a creativity buzzword for a couple years now. Many believe the process can crack open hard-to-solve problems and help designers discover new solutions. Others think the process can be cumbersome – to many inputs and too little discipline. Can Design Thinking be the revolution that changes hotel design? You decide.


According to Tim Brown, CEO of global design company IDEO and DT evangelist, Design Thinking is “a human-centered approach to problem-solving that helps people and organizations become more innovative and creative.”


The process is encapsulated in five non-linear steps:

  1. Empathy: Connect with who you’re designing for. Learn as much as you can about what they want or need to accomplish in that space.
  2. Define: What is the problem you’re solving?
  3. Ideate: Brainstorm for as many solutions as possible.
  4. Prototype: Take the best ideas, and create a demo.
  5. Test: Get feedback from the demo and make your improvements


The mission is simple – design to solve problems. For instance, when designing a hotel room bathroom, there are many ways where Design Thinking can thrill your client.

Do your guests often have small children with them? Add footstools below the sink so they can reach the faucet handles.

Are your guests elderly? Design an ornamental pull-out handrail to help them stay balanced in the shower.

Do your guests like to spend a lot of time in the tub? Add remote or voice controlled lighting so they can set the mood.

Simple touches that tell the client you are designing a bathroom around the way they live.


Will Design Thinking change the way hotel rooms are designed? It already does. Our solutions are derived from empathy – an understanding of our clients feelings and the feelings of people who will be using the spaces we design. Our work is more collaborative than ever, using digital tools to connect productively and often. In the future – who knows how Design Thinking will continue to influence the way we discover solutions. The jury is out, but the process’ chances look promising.

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