This article presents the first part of a study that aims at proposing an evidence-based research and prototyping methodology for strategic design. Analyzing the emergence of Strategic Design, we argue that a historically unprecedented rapprochement between intangible design and social research opens a spectrum of possibility for conducting design and science in a new way. First, we examine the emergence of strategic design and discuss its institutionalization in academic and professional contexts. Second, we summarize the three ways of approaching Strategic Design as (1) Discipline, (2) Practice and (3) Attitude. Third, drawing on the social sciences as inspired by Actor-Network Theory (ANT), we define Strategic Design as an evidence-based and social scientifically informed creative practice that aims at proposing a new way to arrange or remake the interaction between devices (D), actors (A), representations (R), and networks (N) in any given organization or problem universe. Preparing a groundwork to develop a research and prototyping methodology for strategic design, the paper ends with a methodological discussion as a segue to Part 2 (available in this issue of She-Ji) that presents DARN as a theoretical toolkit for strategic designers.