Nigel Cross

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Nigel Cross is a British academic, a design researcher and educator, Emeritus Professor of Design Studies at The Open University, United Kingdom,[1] and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Design Studies. He is one of the key people of the Design Research Society.


Nigel Cross began his design research in the 1960s with studies of "simulated" computer-aided design systems where the purported simulator was actually a human operator, using text and graphical communication via CCTV. Cross later referred to this as a kind of Reverse Turing test;[2] in interaction design this kind of study later became known as a Wizard of Oz experiment. He also applied early forms of protocol analysis to these experiments. His PhD on ‘Human and Machine Roles in Computer Aided Design’ was expanded into the book The Automated Architect (1977),[3] which was critical of some of the computer-aided architectural design work of that time. In 1971, Cross co-organised the first major conference of the Design Research Society (DRS), on Design Participation. He continued to play significant roles in DRS, and since 2006 has been its President.

Early interests in design methods led to an edited book of foundational papers, Developments in Design Methodology (1984)[4] and a textbook of Engineering Design Methods (1989, now in a 4th edition).[5]

Subsequently his research interests turned more to design cognition or design thinking. In 1991 Cross established, with colleagues at Delft University of Technology, the international series of Design Thinking Research Symposia (DTRS). The second DTRS meeting at Delft (1994) laid the foundations for much subsequent work on protocol studies of design activity.[6]


In 1982 Cross published a journal article 'Designerly Ways of Knowing',[7] drawing on design research to show Design as having its own intellectual and practical culture as a basis for education, and contrasting it with cultures of Science and Arts and Humanities. This is based on the idea that "There are things to know, ways of knowing them and ways of finding out about them that are specific to the design area".[8] Understanding "how designers think and work" has been a significant theme in his writings, culminating in the book Design Thinking (2011).[9]


  • 2005. Lifetime Achievement Award, Design Research Society.[10]
  • 2007. Elected Honorary Fellow, The Design Society.[11]
  • 2012. Institution of Engineering Designers Trophy award for outstanding contributions to design education and research.[12]


  1. ^ [See official university website at:]
  2. ^ Cross, Nigel (2001). "Can a Machine Design?". Design Issues. 17 (4): 44–50. doi:10.1162/07479360152681083. JSTOR 1511919.
  3. ^ Nigel Cross (1977). The Automated Architect. Pion Limited. ISBN 0850860571.[non-primary source needed]
  4. ^ Nigel Cross (1984). Developments in Design Methodology. Wiley. ISBN 0471102482.[non-primary source needed]
  5. ^ Nigel Cross (2008). Engineering Design Methods. Wiley. ISBN 978 0470519264.[non-primary source needed]
  6. ^ Cross, Nigel; Christiaans, Henry; Dorst, Kees, eds. (1996). Analysing Design Activity. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-471-96060-7.
  7. ^ Cross, Nigel (1982). "Designerly ways of knowing". Design Studies. 3 (4): 221–7. doi:10.1016/0142-694X(82)90040-0.
  8. ^ Cross, Nigel (1982). "Designerly ways of knowing". Design Studies. 3 (4): 223. doi:10.1016/0142-694X(82)90040-0.
  9. ^ Nigel Cross (2011). Design Thinking: Understanding how designers think and work. Berg/Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-84788-636-1.
  10. ^ "Professor Nigel Cross - Lifetime Achievement Award 2005". Design Studies. 27: 1–4. 2006. doi:10.1016/j.destud.2005.10.001.
  11. ^[full citation needed]
  12. ^ "IED Award" (PDF). IED Journal. p. 13. Retrieved 5 February 2017.

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