Horst Rittel: German design researcher (1930 - 1990) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
peoplepill id: horst-rittel
1 views today
1 views this week
Horst Rittel
German design researcher

Horst Rittel

Horst Rittel
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German design researcher
Was Professor Educator
From Germany
Field Academia
Gender male
Birth 14 July 1930, Berlin, Margraviate of Brandenburg
Death 9 July 1990, Heidelberg, Germany (aged 60 years)
Star sign Cancer
The details (from wikipedia)


Horst Willhelm Jakob Rittel (14 July 1930 – 9 July 1990) was a design theorist and university professor. He is best known for coining the term wicked problem, but his influence on design theory and practice was much wider.

His field of work is the science of design, or, as it also known, the area of design theories and methods (DTM), with the understanding that activities like planning, engineering, policy making are included as particular forms of design.

In response to the perceived failures of early attempts at systematic design, he introduced the concept of "second generation design methods" and a planning/design method known as issue-based information system (IBIS) for handling wicked problems.

Early career

Rittel was born in Berlin. From 1958 to 1963, he was Professor of Design Methodology at the Ulm School of Design in Germany (Hochschule für Gestaltung—HfG Ulm).

Later career

  • 1963 — 1990 Professor of the Science of Design at the University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design, Department of Architecture and Department of City and Regional Planning
  • 1967 Visiting Associate Professor for Architecture and Operations Research at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri
  • 1973 — 1990 Director and Professor at the University of Stuttgart, Faculty for Architecture and Town Planning.

He died in Heidelberg, aged 59.

Wicked problems

Rittel coined the term wicked problem in the mid-1960s to describe the ill-defined problems of planning. Rittel and Melvyn Webber published the seminal paper on Wicked Problems in the journal Policy Sciences in 1973. Although the subject of Wicked Problems is sometimes considered to have originated in the Social Sciences, as a professor in a department of architecture Rittel was clear that architectural design problems were also wicked problems.


IBIS (for issue-based information system) is the instrumental version of the understanding of design as argumentation. It is a method to guide the design process and to reinforce deliberation and argumentation. A number of computer-based versions of IBIS have been and are being developed for various computer systems (personal computers and workstations).

The idea of IBIS was conceived in 1968. It has served as a regular teaching tool, in order to demonstrate the typical difficulties of design and the different ways of dealing with them. IBIS was an idea "waiting for an appropriate technology" in order to become more effective and attractive. The various previous applications have been more or less successful, but have suffered from bureaucratic clumsiness. The recent availability of "hypertext" data-structures and user interfaces—even on small microcomputers and moderately priced workstations—has allowed the design of IBISes which are much more "user-friendly" than their predecessors. Today, we have a number of IBIS-programs, developed and implemented on a variety of machines by PhD-students, most recently by Ph.D. candidate Douglas E. Noble. In addition, there is an implementation (gIBIS), developed by MCC, an R&D corporation in Austin, Texas, run by a consortium of 25 leading US-computer companies and dissolved in 2004.

Some crucial old weaknesses of IBIS remain the same: the danger of getting lost in the web of cross-references, the lack of a "synoptic" overview of the state of resolution, and the "logic of the next question", i.e. the problem of prestructuring the possibilities for guiding the designers' deliberations into plausible directions.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 10 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
comments so far.
From our partners
Reference sources
Sections Horst Rittel

arrow-left arrow-right instagram whatsapp myspace quora soundcloud spotify tumblr vk website youtube pandora tunein iheart itunes