Design Studies

Published by Elsevier BV

Print ISSN: 0142-694X


Design against nature
  • Article

July 2004


98 Reads

The process of disinfecting pits technology against nature. This issue is considered through examination of the design and development of a microwave disinfecting system for contact lenses. Here, technology intervenes to remedy a naturally occurring deficiency in human sight and the design solution requires indiscriminate annihilation of ‘lesser’ forms of life. With the march of science transforming our ethical and theological visions, questions are raised about the justifications for this strategy and the senses in which it may be seen to be responsible. The competing discourses of responsibility reveal the attraction of seeking to develop such technologies through multidisciplinary teams.

Evaluation of complex systems

January 2007


119 Reads

AbstractA new process is introduced for evaluating systems. Criteria are represented as a hierarchy of functions or, at a policy level, a hierarchy of policy positions. The system to be evaluated is represented as a hierarchy of its components. Elements of the system are scored against criteria using a bidirectional scale with provision for degrees of both support and obstruction. Assessment values for lowest-level elements are calculated using a series algorithm that relates composite scores uniquely to the scoring scale. Values for categories within both hierarchies are calculated from element values below them, with results presented graphically, in color.

Study on the collaborative design process over the Internet: A case study on VRML 2.0 specification design

July 1998


38 Reads

In this paper, we analyze the process of VRML 2.0 (Virtual Reality Modeling Language, Version 2.0) specification design for the deeper understanding of Internet-based collaboration. The VRML design process has the characteristics of being open to the public, geographically distributed, long-term, large-scale, and diverse. First, we examine the overall features of the design process by analyzing the VRML mailing list archive statistically. Secondly, we extract prototyping vocabulary (operational patterns) from the document change log. Thirdly, we analyze the process of proposing and agreeing with the PROTO node in detail. The results of analysis provide us with a guidance for facilitating innovation in the Internet-based collaboration.

An investigation of 2D and 3D spatial and mathematical abilities

July 2006


121 Reads

Product design involves many dimensions, requiring designers to work with different types of representations. The power of different representations varies not only according to the types of representation but their power also varies from person to person. Some important design representations, including spatial and mathematical, were investigated in this study. Four different puzzles in mathematical and spatial problem domains were employed to investigate the correlation between mathematical and spatial abilities. It was found that mathematical and spatial abilities were independent, while performance on 2D and 3D spatial tasks were consistently correlated. Some people seemed to demonstrate low spatial aptitude because they were biased by the representation and adopted more difficult strategies.

Figure 13: A variation where path circles around the court. (© James Stirling/Michael Wilford Archive, Centre Canadien d'Architecture/Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal) 
Generic abstraction in design creativity: the case of Staatsgalerie by James Stirling
  • Article
  • Full-text available

May 2010


2,339 Reads

This study examines the role of generic abstraction in architectural design, specifically how it facilitates exploration through formulation of a family of design schemes. We maintain that exploration in design, as it is in scientific discovery, is not solely based on serendipity, but that designers often strategically structure their explorations. We single out three instances of structuring through ‘generic abstraction’ in the case study of Staatsgalerie by Stirling. We hypothesize that generic abstractions help designers to mentally simulate different spatial components which lead to the generation of a novel design conceptualization. In the case at hand, the abstraction processes were sustained within a distributed cognitive system that consisted of one senior and two junior designers together with external representations in the form of sketches and diagrams.

Environmentally conscious design: Matching industry requirements with academic research

January 1998


22 Reads

This paper examines academic research in the area of environmentally conscious design and the extent to which this supports industrial practices in the same area.Results are presented from a survey of 20 industrialists and academics conducted in the UK. A number of research areas are highlighted where industry requirements are not being met. Also shown are the areas where academics wish to begin researching, but have not yet managed to gain suitable industrial commitment.

Complexity through combination: An account of knitwear design

March 2006


135 Reads

Designers immerse themselves in environments rich in inspiration. Previous research has tended to neglect the vital role of sources of inspiration in triggering and guiding designers' activities. This paper reports research which investigates the gathering of inspiration sources and exploration of ideas and hence attempts to understand how inspiration is harnessed. We conducted a progressive series of empirical studies looking at knitwear design: in situ observation; semi-structured interviews; constrained design tasks; and computational modelling. The paper proposes simple general accounts of observed design behaviour and shows how a simple parts-and-relations account can explicate aspects of subtlety and complexity in design.

Figure 1 Legitimation codes of specialisation Source: Maton (2007:97)
Figure 2 Recognition and realization of design according to LCT
Figure 3 Legitimation codes of design disciplines
Legitimating design: A sociology of knowledge account of the field

September 2009


784 Reads

This paper presents a sociology of knowledge approach to describe disciplines in the field of design. We show how the approach casts the nature of knowledge in design disciplines as based upon socially agreed criteria for what constitutes the realization of legitimate knowledge. Interviews with designers and analyses of professional and pedagogic discourse about design are used to illustrate how the approach reveals the differences in what kind of design knowledge is valued, cultivated, and emphasised within a discipline. By placing a sociological lens on knowledge in design, we aim to suggest a language by which what counts as design knowledge can be explicitly expressed. A common, shared language to describe the differences opens a mechanism to discuss what can count as knowledge, rather than to retreat into corners and only agree to disagree that there are different knowledges in design.

Design and use as plans: An action-theoretical account

May 2002


109 Reads

In this paper, we present an action-theoretical account of use and design. Central to this account is the notion of a user plan, which leads us to distinguish a cycle of plan design from one of artefact design. We comment on the nature and scope of our account from the perspective of design methodology in general, and we show that it can be employed to analyse the shortcomings of one design method in particular, namely quality function deployment. Finally, we examine some consequences for a philosophy of artefacts and their functions.

Action, perception, and the realization of design

January 1995


43 Reads

Two approaches to user-responsive designing are reviewed. Firstly, activity-centred environmental design is introduced. With this approach potential design users evolve form gradually on the basis of their activities through use of modular scale models. Secondly, perceptually based designs are discussed. With designs of this type, experience itself becomes the focus of the designing; physical form may or may not be a part of the outcome of the design process in this case, but in any event forms are of secondary importance to the perceptual effects which they give rise to. The implications of this somewhat radical transformation in design thinking are discussed.

Including excluded perspectives in participatory action research

May 2007


173 Reads

In this paper I argue that participatory action research offers the potential for challenging the normative production of knowledge by including excluded perspectives and engaging those most affected by the research in the process. I report on a participatory action research project ‘Makes Me Mad: Stereotypes of Young Urban Womyn of Color’ that I developed with six young women from New York. In my discussion I address key principles of participatory action research (PAR) including the significance of building collective capacity and creating a community of researchers, the value of PAR as a research methodology, issues of audience, and the presentation of research findings (beyond the journal article) so they are ‘received’.

Figure 1: An excerpt of the protocols of a practising architect 
Figure 2a: The coding of the first segment shown in Figure 1. 
Figure 5 
Figure 6: The occurrences of each type of action in each page 
Macroscopic analysis of design processes based on a scheme for coding designers' cognitive actions

October 1998


740 Reads

We have devised a new scheme for coding designers' cognitive actions from video/audio design protocols. Designers' actions are coded into four cognitive levels; physical, perceptual, functional and conceptual. Relations between actions belonging to different levels, such as dependencies and triggering relations, are also coded. The present scheme has two benefits. First, we found that design actions are definable in a systematic way using the vocabulary of the scheme, and thus a designer's cognitive behaviours in each of local design stages is represented as a structure composed of defined primitive actions. This is expected to lay the foundation for microscopic analyses of how particular types of actions contribute to the formation of key design ideas. Second, this scheme is suitable for macroscopic analyses of how designers cognitively interact with their own sketches. We examined, for a practising architect, the ways in which drawing, inspection of drawings, perception, and functional thoughts correlated with one another in his design process. The findings suggest that design sketches serve not only as external memory or as a provider of visual cues for association of non-visual information, but also as a physical setting in which design thoughts are constructed on the fly.

The Structure of Concurrent Cognitive Actions: A Case Study on Novice and Expert Diagnosis

January 2002


319 Reads

This paper presents a case study of concurrent cognitive actions of a novice and an expert designer. We analyzed cognitive actions of designers using the retrospective protocol analysis method and found evidence of the coexistence of certain types of cognitive action in both novices' and expert designers' protocols. The main difference between the two designers' protocols is the structure of concurrent cognitive actions. While the expert's cognitive actions are clearly organized and structured, there are many concurrent actions that are hard to categorize in the novice's protocol. We also found that the expert's cognitive activity and productivity in the design process were three times as high as the novice's. The results from this single case study raise a question for further studies: do structured and organized acts govern performance in the design process?

Comparing graphic actions between remote and proximal design teams

July 2001


32 Reads

This paper outlines the conduct and findings of a research project which compared the sketching activity and sketched output of pairs of design students collaborating face-to-face with other pairs linked by computer mediated tools. The paper proposes that attention to the nature and dispersion of ‘graphic acts’ can lead to a better understanding of the exploitation of sketching between remotely located design participants. Sketch Graphic Acts are used to illuminate the phenomenon of shared sketches and the importance of ‘thumbnail’ sketches—which were commonly exploited in laboratory studies of face-to-face collaborative working but which were significantly impoverished in studies of computer mediated, remote collaborative working.

Mapping between design activities and external representations for engineering student designers

January 2006


142 Reads

Many design researchers have attempted to characterize design through the different activities the designer exhibits, such as problem framing, solution generation, and evaluating alternative solutions. Others have documented the way that sketching supports design. This study combines these approaches to understanding design by exploring the interplay between designers' representations and their design activities in a set of four case studies. We analyzed verbal protocols collected from two senior and two freshman engineering students. The four students exemplify the significant design activity findings from a previous study. In this paper, we present the results from the analysis of the four design protocols, focusing on the relationship between representation and design activity, and on differences between the freshmen and seniors in our sample in the way that they make and use design sketches. We discuss these findings with a focus on improving design education.

An Insight on Designers' Sketching Activities in Traditional Versus Digital Media

January 2003


511 Reads

This study aims at gaining an insight on designers’ cognitive processes while sketching in digital vs traditional media. Empirical data on design processes have been obtained from protocol analyses of six interior designers solving an interior space-planning problem through media transition. In order to encode the design behavior, a coding scheme was utilized that allowed the inspection of both the design activity and the responses to media transition in terms of the primitive cognitive actions of designers. The analyses of the coding scheme constituents, which are segmentation and cognitive action categories, allowed a comparative study demonstrating the effect of the use of different media in the conceptual design phase. The results showed that traditional media had advantages over the digital media, such as supporting the perception of visual–spatial features, and organizational relations of the design, production of alternative solutions and better conception of the design problem. These results also suggested implications for computer aids in architectural design to support the conceptual phase of the design process.

Analyzing design activities which affect the life-cycle environmental performance of large made-to-order products

January 2001


23 Reads

The conceptual design of large Made-to-Order (LMTO) products and processes is the primary stage at which material choices, energy consumption and waste production are committed. Decisions made during conceptual design activities will determine the life-cycle environmental performance of the product system throughout its life-cycle. These decisions will be governed by the transfer of environmental information during design activities, such as client environmental objectives, to the engineering disciplines and individuals within those design disciplines. The LMTO design process is complex involving a large design team that must interact over the course of several months. This paper reports on two case-study companies in the large made-to-order engineering sector. The research establishes how environmental requirements are incorporated into key design activities during the design process and what the main barriers are to improving product environmental performance. Key design activities and associated information flows discussed during semi-structured interviews are schematically modelled in order to identify barriers to environmental design during the large made-to-order design process.

Clients' activities at the design front-end

November 2006


109 Reads

This paper describes a study analysing the front-end of the design process for primary healthcare facilities in the UK. A case study approach was used to gain a detailed understanding of the clients' activities at the front-end of the design process. The research identified the process undertaken to define new requirements, the difficulties faced by the various parties involved and the impact these had at the front-end. The findings have implications for managing requirements with novice construction clients.

Negotiating between Children and Adult Design Values in Open Space Projects

April 1988


190 Reads

Environmental design research and participation can enable groups with different environmental values to negotiate critical design decisions. This article presents findings and techniques from two open space projects—one a neighbourhood playground, the other an elementary schoolyard—found to be useful in clarifying differences in open space values and preferences. Specific differences between child and adult views of these places are reviewed. How participation and research was utilized to help resolve basic open space differences is discussed. The article concludes with a brief review of future issues facing research and design participation.

Knowledge use in an advanced manufacturing environment

May 2011


70 Reads

It is now widely accepted that the active utilisation of a company’s knowledge is vital to maintaining competitive advantage in today’s knowledge based economy, particularly within design and manufacturing environments. Despite the rising popularity of Knowledge Based Systems [KBS] to support design reuse, designer’s interaction with these systems is still poorly understood. This paper presents the results of a longitudinal ‘diary study’ to evaluate the role of a KBS in designer’s activities. The results demonstrate the potential for a KBS to operate as the primary source of codified knowledge for designers and can be a viable alternative to verbal knowledge sharing with experts. A KBS is therefore found to be a significant asset for a Small to Medium Enterprise.

Figure 2 Rephrased or irrelevant queries categorised by the experience of the interviewees
Understanding the knowledge needs of novice designers in the aerospace industry

March 2004


228 Reads

The long-term aim of this research is to understand how to support designers through the provision of appropriate knowledge. This paper describes an empirical study that analysed the interactions between novice and experienced engineering designers in the aerospace industry. In total, 633 queries between novice and experienced designers were analysed. The analysis of the queries found that novice designers were aware of their knowledge needs in only 35% of their queries. The findings have implications for the type of support required by novice designers.

Visually decomposing vehicle images: Exploring the influence of different aesthetic features on consumer perception of brand

July 2012


177 Reads

This paper presents a technique to investigate the influence of aesthetic features and brand recognition of vehicles. Appearance has been shown to impact greatly on consumer perception of products and their branding, yet there exist few tools or methods to support reasoning about their influence. A procedure for visually decomposing designs into constituent aesthetic features is proposed. The strategy is applied to a range of saloon cars, and a consumer survey undertaken to establish the significance and potency of individual aesthetic features. Results both validate the decomposition technique and highlight certain aesthetic features that have the greatest influence on brand recognition.Highlights► Relationship between aesthetic features in products’ appearance brand is researched. ► Features influencing brand recognition are highlighted using visual decomposition. ► The front view of vehicles communicates brand most successfully. ► Graphic features such as headlights and radiator grille are most indicative of brand.

The roles that artefacts play: Technical, social and aesthetic functions

July 2010


952 Reads

The concept of ‘function’ is often employed and sometimes defined in such a way that it only relates to how artefacts can be used to satisfy physical goals (e.g. transportation). Using artefacts to satisfy non-physical goals (e.g. social recognition) is typically described without reference to an artefact’s function. By drawing on the various disciplines that are concerned with function, this article demonstrates that there are many different kinds of function, some of which will account for non-physical uses. By referring to these different kinds of function we can reduce the conceptual distance between physical and non-physical uses. Furthermore, by applying the concept of function to non-physical uses our understanding of such uses can benefit from prior work on function.

Dystopian aesthetics—a refusal from ‘nowhere’

January 1987


56 Reads

The focus of this paper is New Right ideology as applied in architecture; in particular, Alice Coleman's scientific critique of planned housing. The authors highlight her characteristically regressive view of social life, her mean notion of design—above all, her modish dismissal of utopian desire in architecture. Drawing on the theoretical work of William Morris, it is argued that re-evaluations of Modernism are necessary: they require, however, a willingness to enter into utopia's proper space—the education of desire.

How sketching can affect the idea generation process in design group meetings

March 2005


1,047 Reads

This study consists of four experimental idea generation meetings, which explore whether functions of sketching in design activity are also valid for idea generation meetings.The relevant functions of sketching found in theory are: 1) supporting a re-interpretive cycle in the individual thinking process, 2) supporting re-interpretation of each other's ideas in group activity, and 3) enhancing access to earlier ideas. To examine these three possible functions of sketching activity in a group, a model is introduced that considers sketching activities as interactions with the group's external memory. In each meeting both a technique that includes sketching and a technique that includes writing as the primary mode of communication was applied. Differences in the participants' linking behavior for these two techniques were compared. The results provide some support for the first and the third functions of sketching. No support was found for the second function.

Figure 1 Demolition of Pruitt-Igoe housing project (Ó Newman, 1996)  
Figure 2 Front entry doors to the Cooper Library at Clemson University  
An affordance-based approach to architectural theory, design, and practice

July 2009


7,248 Reads

The idea of affordance, borrowed from perceptual psychology, is applied to the domain of architecture. As to architectural theory, affordances can be used as a conceptual framework to understand the relationship between environments and occupants, especially with respect to form and function. Regarding architectural design, the concept of affordance allows for a common theoretical basis to improve the design process. Concerning architectural practice, affordances can be used as a tool to explore the connection between the intentions of the design with how the artifact is actually used, leading to archived knowledge, and the potential for avoiding common design failures.

Figure 2. Typical pattern to process incoming observation results. 
Figure 5 Overview of refinement relations 
Figure 6 Specialisation of RQS modification 
Compositional Design of a Generic Design Agent

March 2001


101 Reads

This paper presents a generic architecture for a design agent, to be used in an Internet environment. The design agent is based on an existing generic agent model, and includes a refinement of a generic model for design, in which strategic reasoning and dynamic management of requirements are explicitly modelled. The generic architecture has been designed using the compositional development method DESIRE, and has been used to develop a prototype design agent for automated agent design.

Design as a knowledge agent: How design as a knowledge process is embedded into organizations to foster innovation

March 2003


284 Reads

This study presents how design, as a ‘knowledge agent’ can contribute to innovation processes. It was developed through the analysis of 30 cases in which design was applied as a strategic competence for the development of product and business innovation. In order to examine and compare extremes, the cases were selected from two distinctive contexts with different characteristics in corporate strategies, organizational structure, and ‘contextual infrastructure’. From the analysis of the cases, it was possible to identify how design activities adapt to different contexts in accessing different knowledge domains. In fact, this research presents two distinctive ways in which design acts as a knowledge agent: as a ‘knowledge integrator’ in ‘global corporations’; and as a ‘knowledge broker’ in ‘local companies’. The two identified strategies emphasize the opportunity of envisioning design as a multi-functional activity, capable of flexibly adapting to specific contextual factors and contributing to the development of product and business innovation in any given situation.

What does an artificial design agent mean by being ‘situated’?

September 2005


67 Reads

Schon described designing as a 'conversation with materials conducted in the medium of drawing'. Both the problem and solution of many designing tasks emerge through this 'conversation' between a situated designer and the medium of the design. Unfortunately, describing agents as 'situated' means different things to researchers from different fields. In this paper we review work from different fields so as to describe what 'situated' means for a design agent. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Viewpoint: Design, innovation, agility

November 1999


27 Reads

This paper was prepared as the opening address to the Design Research Society's conference, Quantum Leap—Managing New Product Innovation, held at the University of Central England in Birmingham, September 1998. Professor Bruce Archer is President of the Design Research Society.

Frames of reference in architectural design: analysing the hyperacclamation (Aha!)

October 1996


84 Reads

The discovery of a creative solution occasionally corresponds to the sudden attainment of a mental insight. Our purpose is to formally describe this phenomenon and the cognitive mechanisms that lead to it. The approach is based on the replicability of just such an insight which underlies the solution to a well known puzzle: the nine-dot puzzle. The insight coincides with the realization that the problem can only be solved when a spurious constraint is removed. Two experimental results are reported: one on the nine-dot puzzle and the other on an architectural sketch design problem. The sketch design problem was structured with several restricting frames of reference to create a situation analogous to the nine-dot puzzle. Subjects' design behaviour was analysed to identify the mechanisms used in achieving the mental insights which allow designers to go beyond the implicit restrictions of these frames. A general model, called SMI-GI, of the mental insight based design and discovery process is described. This model foresees a computer system that can be used to simulate the mental insight mechanism and consequently lead to the systematic examination of this aspect of design creativity.

Specifications for computer-aided conceptual building design

January 2003


141 Reads

The relative absence of computer support in conceptual building design deprives designers of advanced capabilities for the manipulation, organization and representation of design data. Such capabilities would be highly beneficial to the design process, particularly when designers from different specialties must work together to provide the best possible design solution. We look into how designers work during conceptual design with particular attention on how information is manipulated and organized. We then draw specifications for the creation of a computer tool to support such an early design stage.

Mismatched metaphor: User vs system model in computer-aided drafting

October 1997


13 Reads

We report findings from an extensive study of the users of a Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) system. Our observations suggest that the CAD system is used inefficiently, because users approach computer-aided drafting from a T-square metaphor reflecting their past experience with traditional drawing media. This prevents them from discovering and using effectively powerful system commands that have no equivalent in manual techniques. These findings suggest that we should rethink the ways in which CAD users are trained and manuals are written, and that we introduce CAD users to a more strategic use of CAD, particularly to a Detail/Aggregate/Manipulate (DAM) strategy that takes advantage of the compositional logic underlying a design.

New insights in computer-aided conceptual design

January 1995


44 Reads

This paper examines some of the requirements for computer support of conceptual design. We have developed a prototype surface modeller, and had this system evaluated by a team of professional industrial designers. We show the results and derive some conclusions on sketch input and the storage of imprecise data.

An approach to computer-aided styling

January 1995


508 Reads

This paper discerns aspects of geometric algorithms in styling, and investigates their automation. An approach to computer-aided styling, including morphology, geometric transformation, and interpolation, is presented and implemented in the design of a toolkit for car emergencies. The results reflect that this approach is useful for generating a great number of alternate shapes in conjunction with geometric algorithms, though it is still highly dependent on the designer's heuristic decision-making.

The design of novel roof trusses with shape annealing: Assessing the ability of a computational method in aiding structural designers with varying design intent

January 1999


52 Reads

A study of roof truss designs conceived by architects and civil engineers as well as those generated with shape annealing, a computational design method for structural configuration, is presented. The purpose of this study is to assess the capabilities of shape annealing in (1) meeting the needs of designers with varying intent, and (2) presenting spatially intriguing, yet functional, structures that expand the range of designs considered in the conceptual design stage. An advantage of shape annealing for conceptual design is unbiased, directed exploration of the design space. The conclusion of this study is that shape annealing generates alternatives that appeal to designers with different purposes while providing insight into relations between structural form and function.

Historical background and aims of interdisciplinary research between Bamberg, Darmstadt and Munich

September 1999


36 Reads

This paper on interdisciplinary research between Bamberg, Darmstadt and Munich focus on three main aspects: First, a short survey is given on the historical development of design research in Germany and on the motivation for collaboration with psychologists; second, the main targets of the interdisciplinary research with psychology are discussed; third, the chronological process of the interdisciplinary research project between the work-groups in Bamberg, Darmdstadt and Munich is presented.This Keynote paper was updated and modified by the editors based on elements of a paper by Gerhard Pahl[1].

On the conceptual framework of John Gero's FBS-model and the prescriptive aims of design methodology

March 2007


476 Reads

In this paper we consider the Function–Behaviour–Structure model of designing in the version as developed by John Gero and collaborators. We identify two problems: the absence of a stable definition of function, and the model's double aim of describing actual designing and prescribing improved designing. These problems are not unique to the body of work we are addressing here; they are general problems that design methodologists have been struggling with in the last forty years. We argue that philosophy may help addressing them: it may fix a definition of function and illustrates how descriptive and prescriptive modelling can be distinguished and connected.

Analogical reasoning and mental simulation in design: two strategies linked to uncertainty resolution

March 2009


884 Reads

This paper aims to further an understanding of the nature and function of analogising and mental simulation in design through an analysis of the transcripts of two engineering design meetings. Analogies were coded for ‘purpose’ and in terms of whether they were within-domain or between-domain. Mental simulations were coded for ‘focus’: technical/functional or end-user. All expressions of uncertainty were also identified. Analogies were found to be typically between-domain (indicative of innovative reasoning) and were evenly distributed across solution generation, function finding and explanation. Mental simulations were predominantly technical/functional. Our most striking observation was that analogies and mental simulations were associated with conditions of uncertainty. We propose that analogising and mental simulation are strategies deployed to resolve uncertainty – a claim that is supported by the fact that uncertainty levels returned to baseline values at the end of analogising and simulation episodes.

The role of timing and analogical similarity in the stimulation of idea generation in design

May 2008


261 Reads

An experiment was conducted to gain an understanding of how people assimilate and apply newly acquired information when ideating solutions to a design problem by studying how the nature of problem-relevant information and timing of when it is given can affect idea generation in an open-ended design problem. More specifically, the effects of presenting surface similar information before design conceptualization, or surface dissimilar information before and during design conceptualization on the quantity, breadth, and novelty of solutions generated were analyzed. The effects of open goals, fixation, and priming, as well as their implications in design problem solving are examined. It was found that information that is more distantly related to the design problem impacted idea generation more when there was an open goal to solve the problem, while information that is more obviously similar to the problem impacted idea generation more than distantly related information when seen before problem solving has begun. Evidence of induced design fixation and priming were also observed.

Spontaneous analogising in engineering design: A comparative analysis of experts and novices

September 2004


137 Reads

Although analogical reasoning is claimed to play a central role in creative cognition and the development of expertise, few studies have explored the nature and prevalence of spontaneous analogising in design contexts. We report an experimental comparison of analogy use by expert and novice design engineers. Concurrent think-aloud protocols were analysed to derive measures of the rate of schema-driven analogising (i.e., the recognition-primed application of abstract experiential knowledge that could afford a design solution to a familiar problem type), and case-driven analogising (i.e., the invocation of a concrete prior design problem whose solution elements could be mapped onto the current problem). Results supported our prediction that expert designers would demonstrate more schema-driven than case-driven analogising, whilst novices would show the reverse pattern of analogising. We discuss the implications of these results for theories of design cognition and expert design practice.

The design analogy: a model for moral problem solving

November 2006


604 Reads

In this paper we explore an analogy between design and ethics, first drawn by Whitbeck. We investigate her claim that such an analogy can help to understand moral problems and aid us in dealing with them by suggesting strategies for addressing moral problems. We explore the nature of analogies, and extract criteria for what constitutes a ‘good’ analogy. We use some of the established knowledge about design and design reasoning to consider critically and to extend Whitbeck's design analogy. We establish the practical merits of the design analogy in a thought experiment, solving a moral problem in a manner that is closely modelled on a design method. Our conclusions include suggestions for further research and a fledgling vision of the future role of design methodology. We propose that the design analogy could be fruitful in shedding light on problem solving in various areas of human endeavour not traditionally associated with design.

Expertise and the use of visual analogy: Implications for design education

March 1999


2,096 Reads

A challenge of design education is the question of how to help designers develop skills in design problem-solving. How can designers be taught to use relevant prior knowledge to solve new design problems? To answer this question we must know more about differences between experts and novices regarding the use of prior knowledge to solve ill-defined problems. In design, visual analogy is used as a powerful problem-solving strategy; the evidence, however, is hitherto mostly anecdotal. In this study our objective is to determine empirically whether, and how, the use of visual analogy can improve design problem-solving by both novice and expert designers. Our results indicate that the use of visual analogy improves the quality of design across the board, but is particularly significant in the case of novice designers. These findings lead to conclusions regarding design training and education.

Talking about team framing: Using argumentation to analyse and support experiential learning in early design episodes

January 2002


145 Reads

To address the problem framing which takes place during the conceptual stages of design notions about individual reflective practice need to be extended to account for team designing. Our research is concerned with formulating an argumentative approach to understanding the process of frame negotiation among the team. Hence we pay attention to designers' interactions, in particular how frame shifts are effected, in the hope of clarifying the phenomenon of frames and their establishment in design teams. This approach is explained on a theoretical level and illustrated with examples drawn from design transcripts. Frame shifts are detected by focusing on rhetorical schemes as markers of reality construction. Transcripts are structured into episodes that show the negotiation of terms. Finally, we discuss support for reflection on the design process.

Capturing and analysing own design activity

September 2007


159 Reads

A discourse on the selection of tools for capturing and analysing own design activity is presented. Issues including design activity as data and the validity of self-reportage/analysis are discussed. Candidate data collection tools are compared, with participant observation, action research and diaries as preferred choices. The empirical development of a diary to capture industrial design practice is presented. The diary is found to be effective in eliciting specific elements of own design activity amenable to verbal articulation (e.g. materials and manufacturing) and its suitability to practice-led research is demonstrated.

Analysing participation in collaborative design environments

September 2000


83 Reads

Computer-supported collaborative design can be realised by a broad range of collaborative environments, each facilitating a different kind of collaboration. Understanding the style of collaboration and the potential for each environment is important when choosing a particular technology. We have developed a virtual world approach to teaching design computing in which students learn through traditional lectures, online seminars, and collaborative design projects. The environment integrates both synchronous and asynchronous communication as well as shared documentation. One side effect of using this environment is the incremental development of a record of the communication and collaboration. This record can be the basis for the analysis of participation in collaboration. We show how text analysis as a part of data mining can be used to analyse different aspects of participation. Specifically, we analyse participation in synchronous communication to evaluate individual contribution. We then analyse asynchronous communication to evaluate the extent of collaboration. The methods presented can be an automated part of the collaborative environment providing information for student evaluation in an educational environment or individual contribution in a professional environment.

Analytical design planning technique: A model of the detailed building design process

May 1999


149 Reads

Current planning practice takes little account of the interdisciplinary, iterative nature of the building design process. This leads to a compromised design process containing inevitable cycles of rework together with associated time and cost penalties in both design and construction. The Analytical Design Planning Technique (ADePT) is a planning methodology which helps to overcome these difficulties. This paper describes the development of a modelling notation and model of the detailed building design process, which forms the first stage of ADePT.

Design as Bricolage: Anthropology Meets Design Thinking

November 1999


140 Reads

We identify a metaphor for the design activity: we view design as bricolage. We start from describing bricolage, and we proceed to the relationship of design to art. We obtain a characterisation of design that enables us to show that both traditional and contemporary design are forms of bricolage. We examine the consequences of `design as bricolage' for the relationship between design and science and for the extent of the design activity.

Towards an anticipatory view of design

July 2007


131 Reads

Anticipation indicates the capacity to act in preparation for a certain effect or future state of the world. Although the link between anticipation and design has not received particular attention in design research, it is a fundamental one. In the paper we review the concept of anticipation and discuss its meaning for design research. We further argue that in order to develop an anticipatory view of design it is necessary to move beyond long-established paradigms and abstractions such as those of machine, evolution and control. Based on a conceptual and methodological framework proposed by Robert Rosen we elaborate such an anticipatory view that establishes the uniqueness of design compared to these paradigms.

Applying ethnography in the analysis and support of expertise in engineering design

July 2000


571 Reads

Whilst many contemporary studies of design have claimed to be using ethnographic methods, the techniques which have been employed often diverge from the characteristics of pure ethnography as used in traditional anthropological and sociological research. We argue that this is entirely appropriate for applied ethnography that is conducted in pursuit of explicit design goals. In this paper, we explore the relationship between pure and applied ethnography, and their use in cognitive and social research. We also discuss how the outcomes of applied ethnography can be applied to i) the design of a computer-based design support tool and ii) the development of controlled experimental studies that retain sufficient ecological validity to capture realistic design expertise. We additionally argue that objectivity in empirical studies of design can be obtained only by triangulating observations across methodologies that embrace both ethnographic and laboratory-based traditions.

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