Purpose: This paper seeks to develop the argument that a cybernetic framework will enable designers to act as an observer and participant in the process of designing. The dynamic nature of the design process will be discussed in order to better understand how these aspects impact on a designer’s ability to act effectively in design. Design/methodology/approach – A second‐order cybernetic framework is offered as a means to facilitate a designer’s capacity to act as an observer‐participant in the co‐creation of a design solution. It characterizes the design process as a conversation to enhance a designer’s ability to conceptually develop novel design solutions in participative situations. Findings: The significance of the designer in the design process and the design solution is established. A second‐order cybernetic framework provides an explanation for a designer’s actions by acknowledging their presence in the design process. This makes possible the collaborative development of a design situation and its solution between various participants in this process through negotiation and mutual understanding. Practical implications: It is envisaged that the value of cybernetic concepts as a means to augment interaction, reflection, mutual understanding, creativity and innovation to facilitate designerly ways of knowing, thinking, and acting, is realized. Originality/value – The main value of this framework is for designers who struggle with finding an appropriate framework to facilitate and rationalize the subjective nature of human‐centred design methods and the complexity of design.
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