Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Design Creativity (ICDC 2020)

Year: 2020
Editor: Boujut, Jean-François ; Cascini, Gaetano ; Ahmed-Kristensen, Saeema ; Georgiev, Georgi V. ; Iivari, Netta
Author: Vieira, Sonia (1); Gero, John S. (2); Delmoral, Jessica (3); Li, Shumin (1); Cascini, Gaetano (1); Fernandes, António (4) 
Series: ICDC
Institution: 1: Department of Mechanical Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Italy; 2: Department of Computer Science and School of Architecture, UNCC, Charlotte, NC, USA; 3: INEGI-FEUP, Porto; 4: Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto, Portugal
Page(s): 068-075
DOI number:


Creativity is recognized as essential for changing the design space from constrained to open spaces. This study compares the neurophysiological activations of 18 professional industrial designers in two prototypical tasks, a problem-solving constrained layout task and an open design task. The analysis focused on measuring the cognitive demand in three stages of designing in constrained and open design spaces, namely: reading, problem-solving/reflection and layout/sketching. Results indicate significant differences in activations between the constrained task and the design task. Significant differences in activations involved in design reading, reflecting and sketching in open design tasks can be found in the left prefrontal cortex, temporal and occipital cortices. In particular, reading open or constrained requests evoked different levels of conceptual expansion prompting designers to change their design space, while reflecting evoked visual imagination and associative reasoning modes and hemispheric differences from problem-solving leading to expanded activation in sketching, which translates in higher activation in the open design task. These results show significantly different brain activations when designing in constrained and open design spaces.

Keywords: designing,  open space,  constrained space,  electroencephalography,  industrial designers

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