Layer 1: Design thinking itself can be a useful tool for deriving effective market solutions. For example, Aravind Eye Care System used such a process to increase the availability of optometric care throughout India. However, not all design thinking is equal. As the phrase has grown in popularity, it has transformed from a feature to an expectation. Many clients anticipate a design thinking experience and as such, designers will often participate in design thinking theater in order to deliver on this expectation. Ironically, design thinking is a victim of its own success. Just as the process has been used to uncover new systems of value for consumer products, design thinking has transformed the systems of value that govern the design client's experience. In doing so, design thinking becomes a symbol for something that is not necessarily achieved through a design thinking process.

Layer 2: Design thinking is to symbol exchange as manufacturing is to the product. In other words it is the codification of process that deals in the symbolic creation integral to capitalist production. Utilizing scientific and ethnographic techniques, design thinking plays a key role in developing the dreams, desires and illusions that underly the practice of consumption. For this reason, design thinking is equally responsible for the evils of consumerism, including environmental degradation and mistreatment of labor. Though design thinking may claim to be a methodology capable of tackling humanitarian issues through human centered design, this is clearly impossible. Created by the system of capitalism, the crises that design thinking attempts to address cannot be eliminated through further integration into the dialectics of consumption. Design thinking has one modality: the transformation of data into systems of symbolic exchange. It can only atomize and commodify. It cannot cure.

Layers of Design Thinking