Tourism Design: Articulating Design Beyond Science

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Design has received increasing attention in the field of tourism research and practice. A number of researchers have pointed out how design as an approach to innovation might benefit the development of digitally enhanced tourism products and services. The central and prevailing view of design in tourism relies on an understanding of design as a rational problem-solving activity, fundamentally devoid of creative judgment and largely decoupled from the situated and embodied context of organizations, creative design practice, and the enactment and use of products in the lifeworld of people. I thus argue that design in tourism research has tended to be aligned with the modernist legacy of Herbert Simon’s account of design as a largely cognitivist and rationalizing practice and tends to maintain a view on design grounded in scientific and managerial discourses. In this chapter, I suggest how such approaches to design in tourism research are potentially limiting the development of innovative practices. The conceptual underpinnings of design in tourism make it challenging to reflect on alternative accounts or conceptualizations of design based within the humanities and anthropology and could impede the construction of a more pluralist engagement with design. The paper reflects on accounts and activities in tourism research that involve designerly work, particularly focusing on the design of digital experience products and services in tourism. It problematizes the modernist decision science legacy of design thinking and design science approaches and suggests how tourism as a research field might usefully extend its vocabulary and conceptual grasp on design. Design is more than a science, and this chapter ultimately suggests some directions that go beyond the currently dominant rationalizing and science-based positions. Based on emerging understandings of speculative design and as a material and highly situated practice, the chapter outlines alternative conceptualizations of design. The chapter suggests positions and approaches that can work to facilitate a broader view and a more reflective practice of design in tourism. The chapter proceeds as a “think piece,” reflecting on two distinct legacies of and approaches to design. One is broadly rationalistic and solution-oriented, borne out of a desire to practice design as a science, and the other is a speculative approach that treats design as a critical, situated, and reflective practice of “studying” the future and the intricate consequences of innovation.
TitelHandbook of e-Tourism
RedaktørerZheng Xiang, Matthias Fuchs, Ulrike Gretzel, Wolfram Höpken
Antal sider23
ISBN (Elektronisk)9783030053246
StatusUdgivet - 2022


  • Design
  • Design science
  • Speculative design
  • Design thinking
  • Futures