Time, quality and strategic adequacy dimensions of product design processes



Product & Industrial Design


  • design process, design methologies


Full Title: The enhancement of the time, quality and strategic adequacy dimensions of product design processes: a doctoral study in its first stage

In Portugal the Product Design Processes display several inefficiencies that result on the bad performance of the products in general. Therefore I have initiated an investigation about design processes that hopefully will conduct to the development of a design methodology that will match design education practices with industrial ones.

On this work of research, that is now on its exploratory research phase, and that will be presented in the future as a doctoral thesis, I have chosen has supporting theoretical paradigms those of Donald Schön (1983) – The Reflection-in-Action theory - and of Herbert Simon (1996) – the Rational Problem Solving approach. I believe that, even though at first sight the paradigms stand on opposite sides of the epistemological spectrum, they may contribute together to the development of a methodology that will improve the studied dimensions if I attend to the developments proposed by Hans Georg Gadamer (1986) in the Hermeneutical field that are quite useful on the transposition between both paradigms.

The recognition of design as hermeneutical rather then epistemological is a key aspect of my approach to design’s methodology that can be improved if we assume as Kees Dorst (1997) proposed that design education requires the combination of the two paradigms.

The new methodology that is being developed in this research assumes that “design problem” and “design solution” have a co-evolution and can not be seen as separate moments. Especially in what concerns wicked or ill-defined problems it is a matter of developing and refining both the formulation of the problem and ideas for a solution, in a constant iteration that includes analysis, synthesis and evaluation processes.

Time, strategic adequacy and quality management in the design processes will be addressed in the proposed new methodology supported by the use of ‘case-based design’ (based upon experience that is used to facilitate retrieval and use) and ‘constraints posting’ (a method of formulating and propagating values, constraints and structure).

The investigation will be conducted both in academic field and companies through surveys, interviews and ethnographic studies. These field experiments will occur with final students of the product design courses working with problems proposed by some of the most relevant Portuguese industrial Firms which is a new situation in terms of teaching methodology.

Hopefully this work will contribute to the enhancement of design education in our university in what concerns design methodologies and the dialogue with industry and other stakeholders.

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