||Design Matter : First steps towards a framework for understanding individual designers' design process
||Yoshinaka, Yutaka (Innovation and Sustainability, Department of Management Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, DTU, DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark)
||Technical University of Denmark, DTU, DK-2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
||The principal motivation for this thesis is the concern that the traditional design models
taught throughout design education do not reflect the way design is experienced in
practice. The general notion that it is possible to systematically direct a design process
towards an optimal solution seems at odds with the intricate and often indirect ways
product proposals develop in design projects.
To understand this incongruity better the seminal work of Pahl & Beitz, “Design
Engineering – a Systematic Approach”, is examined and discussed as a proxy for the
dominant approach to design understanding within the field of design research.
The analysis shows that this systematic design approach fails to capture some of the
fundamental aspects of design that are important for understanding design work in a
broader sense, and thus should not be the basis for a design understanding that tries to
reach beyond the boundaries of engineering design.
Following the analysis this thesis sets out to lay down a first few steps towards a
framework for understanding the fundamental aspects of design process - or rather, a way
of talking about design process that may help the development of a further understanding.
The starting point for the framework is that design activity must be seen in the light of
designers being immersed in the world through their senses. Everything the designer
experiences, learns and knows is understood through individual, mental activity, and
design activity therefore must be understood from this perspective.
It is suggested that designing can be metaphorically understood as designers exploring and
expanding their personal understanding of a design situation, which is represented in their
mind as a design space populated with design matter. This design matter can be thought of
as networks of information, which the designer continuously define and re-define through
tracing of its elements and relations guided by both rational thinking and intuitive
sensibilities. Conflicts, “loose ends” or intuitive associations in the network structure
prompt the designer to seek out more information, from other previous experiences or
from “the world” through perception.
The information gained by such explorations is introduced back into the network structure,
thereby expanding the network, the design space, and hence his understanding of the
The framework emphasises that individual designers each have their own way of
understanding and doing design, and that a fundamental understanding of design process
must allow for designers to each describe it in their own way. The framework therefore
does not attempt to come with any suggestions on how designers should design, but on the
contrary attempt to allow understanding of both “good” and “bad” process on the same
Creation date: 2009-02-09
Update date: 2009-02-12