1. The ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning.
    1. A thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.

Intuitive, adjective

  1. Using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning; instinctive.

At DAE we speak of an intuitive way of working when decisions within the process of making appear to have been made unconsciously, that is without actively thinking about them. For most people it can be hard to analyse how and why decisions such as these have been made. By reflecting on the outcomes however, we can deliberate the usefulness and quality of decisions and results. When this is done in a fast, iterative way – rapid alternation of making and reflecting – this process can be called thinking-through-making.

An intuitive way of working often contrasts with a systematic way of working, in which decisions and steps take place within a process in a rationally planned way. Considered in this light, intuition is often seen as something mysterious and the concept used to indicate that something has been made from the heart and that what has been made expresses the designer’s (or artist’s) true self.

The historian Carlo Ginsburg, however, offers a different perspective. He argues that intuition is neither something more nor something less than very fast reasoning based on experience. Seen from this angle, one can reason that knowledge may appear to escape consciousness because of the speed of the process, but the experienced designer is surely capable of tracing his steps and reflecting on the thinking-through-making process.


  • Ginzberg, C., & Davin, A. (1980). Morelli, Freud, and Sherlock Holmes: Clues and Scientific Method. In: History Workshop, No. 9 (pp. 5–36). Oxford: Oxford University Press.