Fil Salustri's Design Site

Site Tools


Design by Reversal

While design by inversion focuses on changing a design idea or concept, problem reversal focuses on changing how you think about the problem itself.

Consider this example. If the problem is one of stopping a leaky roof, then the reverse is to stop a leaky floor – i.e. rather than stopping the leak in the roof, vent the leak to the floor (and then just drain it). Obviously you can't just reverse one problem and solve it in a trivial way. The point of reversing a problem is to promote so called lateral thinking, which is a $50 way of saying “coming up with really new ideas.” So, reversal is more about reversing the way you think about a problem or a design, rather than reversing the design itself. Some other examples of reversal include the following.

Problem Initial Solution Reversed Problem
You need to stop groundwater from entering a pit being dug. Put up a barrier that forces water around the pit. Instead of trying to stop the water, suck it forward with a vacuum system, into a pipe that you can route off-site.
Designing a playground so that children will tend to not walk in front of the end of the slide where then can be struck by other children coming down the slide. Having a large open space at the end of the slide so that children can jump out of the way. Turn the end of the slide so that children are directed immediately towards another activity with a staging area (e.g. a ladder they can climb).

See Also

design/design_by_reversal.txt · Last modified: 2020.03.12 13:30 (external edit)