An exploration of design synthesis

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: McTeague, Chris; Duffy, Alex; Campbell, Gerard; Grealy, Madeleine; Hay, Laura; Pidgeon, Laura; Vuletic, Tijana
Series: ICED
Institution: University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom
Section: Human Behaviour in Design
Page(s): 279-288
ISBN: 978-1-904670-96-4
ISSN: 2220-4342


Building on the contributions of existing works in the area of design ontology, this paper presents a hypothetical model of design synthesis which depicts design activities, design outputs and two modes of thought in design. The model is used as a basis upon which to explore design synthesis at multiple levels of cognitive granularity. Studies of conceptual design cognition lend support to a distinction between the creation of design elements and their composition. Additional studies of cognitive processing are reviewed and summarised in order to identify cognitive processes which might be involved in design composition. The review highlights several cognitive processes which have yet to be studied in an ecologically valid design context but which could form the basis of a multi-level model of design synthesis.

Keywords: Design cognition, Human behaviour in design, Conceptual design


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