Context, collaboration and complexity in designing: The pivotal role of cognitive artifacts

DS 75-7: Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED13), Design for Harmonies, Vol.7: Human Behaviour in Design, Seoul, Korea, 19-22.08.2013

Year: 2013
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Subrahmanian, Eswaran; Reich, Yoram; Krishnan, Sruthi
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Carnegie Mellon University, US; 2: Tel Aviv University, Israel; 3: Fields of View, India
Page(s): 099-108
ISBN: 978-1-904670-50-6
ISSN:  2220-4334


Designing progresses through continuous refinement of models. In today's design practice, these models get created and refined by multi-cultural, multidisciplinary teams that speak different languages, whether these languages are spoken language, disciplinary, or organizational language. When these people come together, they create, negotiate, evolve, and manage a nascent language with which they communicate the meaning of the product they design. The nascent language is a pidgin articulated through cognitive artifacts. Thus their role is essential to designing and their management is critical to successful completion of the process. In contrast, their mismanagement quickly presents itself as design failures, sometimes catastrophic. Given their role, it is critical to understand what cognitive artifacts are, how they are constructed, and how they should be managed. This marks a shift from focusing on the artifact to the process of designing as a social, negotiated process. Such a view results in conceiving designing as a complex and emergent process with implications for design research, practice and pedagogy.

Keywords: Design theory, collaborative design, knowledge management


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