Studying design problems

C.H. Dorst

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


    Introduction This paper reports on a research project that has been running at the Eindhoven University of Technology. First at the department of Philosophy (within the Faculty of Management and Innovation Sciences) and later at the Designed Intelligence research group at the Faculty of Industrial Design. The paper will set out, briefly, by discussing the original starting points of the project (section 2), and it will go on to describe the core steps in the intellectual journey that the project has turned into. The subject of study was the structure of design problems, and the philosophical notion of ‘underdetermination’ has taken as a possible fruitful concept to make some inroads into this huge and uncharted territory. The project was, naturally, started with the studying of relevant literature and the making of an inventory of our knowledge on design problems (as ill-structured problems, as underdetermined problems) and of the way in which the design methodology has dealt with design problems, in the broader context, of the modeling of design processes (section 3). This has not turned out to be a very fruitful approach to the issue of design problems. Therefore, an interest was developed in some other theories on how designers deal with their problems, specifically focusing on describing design problems as situated problems (section 4). The inherent subjectivity of design situations has lead to a study in how we could capture and describe the way a designer builds up a view of the situation, and responds to this situation. A fairly coarse, but interesting approach to characterizing and describing the way designers build- up a view on a design situation was found in the work of Dreyfus, where he models the levels of expertise in which a designer operates (section 5). In the last section we will summarize our conclusions on the study of design problems, reflecting on the role that philosophical investigations can play in Design Methodology, and sketch proposals for further research into design problems and design expertise (section 6).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationDesign research in the Netherlands 2005 : proceedings of the symposium held on 19-20 May 2005, Eindhoven University of Technology
    EditorsH.H. Achten, K. Dorst, P.J. Stappers, B. Vries, de
    Place of PublicationEindhoven
    PublisherTechnische Universiteit Eindhoven
    ISBN (Print)90-6814-587-8
    Publication statusPublished - 2005
    Eventconference; Design research in the Netherlands 2005 symposium, 19-20 May 2005, Eindhoven - Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, Netherlands
    Duration: 19 May 200520 May 2005

    Publication series



    Conferenceconference; Design research in the Netherlands 2005 symposium, 19-20 May 2005, Eindhoven
    Othersymposium held on 19-20 May 2005, Eindhoven University of Technology


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