Design variation through richness of rules embedded in LEGO bricks

DS 87-8 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 8: Human Behaviour in Design, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Mathias, David; Boa, Duncan; Hicks, Ben; Snider, Chris; Bennett, Peter; Taylor, Colin
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Bristol, United Kingdom
Section: Human Behaviour in Design
Page(s): 099-108
ISBN: 978-1-904670-96-4
ISSN: 2220-4342


Design rules govern the design process by imposing constraints on the development of a product. Examples of design rules include engineering standards, regulations, standard operating procedures and existing designs as protected by patents. They have the potential to over-constrain the design space and impact innovation. In this paper, an exploratory study is reported that investigates the link between richness of design rules and the resulting design variation in a LEGO model. Design rule richness describes the quantity and explicitness of constraints relating to a design. Design rules, relating to a model of a simple spaceship, were embedded in individual LEGO bricks. Twenty participants were tasked with constructing the spaceship while adhering to the set design rules. There were four levels of design rule richness and the participants constructed a model for each level. Measuring the design variation through Design Structure Matrices revealed that the richness of the design rules only had a significant effect on the design variation between the least and most rich design rules. This suggests that a point exists at which the richness of design rules limit design variation.

Keywords: Human behaviour in design, Requirements, Innovation, Embedded rules, Construction kits


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