Design is a Physical Process, Too

DS 58-2: Proceedings of ICED 09, the 17th International Conference on Engineering Design, Vol. 2, Design Theory and Research Methodology, Palo Alto, CA, USA, 24.-27.08.2009

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Ballard, Glenn; Koskela, Lauri
Series: ICED
Section: Design Theory and Research Methodology
Page(s): 251-262


The mainstream stand in textbooks on design and design management is that design is a problem solving process, starting from the perceived problem and ending to a detailed solution. We contend that these accounts arguably neglect one necessary and important conceptualization of design, namely design as a physical process. This view holds design as a spatio-temporal process, where information (on whatever media) is traversing through a network of designers and other stakeholders. Among the characteristics of a design process, its duration, cost and often output quality can only be explained through this view. Accordingly, it is important to manage design as a physical process, based on the unique features of this view. However, due to this neglect of this view of design we have the situation that practical prescriptions and approaches to design management contain, at most, partial or fragmentary methods and tools towards management of the physical process side. We endeavor to present an overview on the present status of managing design as a physical process, from a theoretical and practical viewpoint.

Keywords: design, physical process, flow process, design structure matrix, pull-push


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