Perceptions of Complexity in Design Representation: Implications for an Understanding of Design Practice

By James Self, Seong-geun Lee and Hyeonseok Bang.

Published by The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: November 23, 2015 $US5.00

From the ubiquitous hand-sketch to high fidelity prototypes, designers employ design representation as a means to externalise, reflect upon, communicate and develop design intentions. As a result of their importance, efforts have been made to identify and classify the different attributes of various representations used during design practice. An existing quantitative approach to the identification and classification of complexity within design representation is used as a coding frame in a content analysis of design representations identified within 50 design case-studies. Results indicate the complexity scale’s limitations as a means of analysis due to the subjectivity and interpretation required in its application. Conceptual and developmental design representation was particularly resistant to the objective measurement of complexity, indicating the role subjectivity and interpretation play in design representation, particularly during conceptual design. Results provide further evidence to suggest the limitations of research methods based upon the paradigm of design as a rational problem solving process, with its emphasis on objective observation. Instead we provide evidence to support a constructed account of design practice as a reflective conversation with the situation, influenced by and dependent upon representation, subjective judgment and interpretation.

Keywords: Design Representation, Design Practice, Reflection-in-Action

The International Journal of Design Management and Professional Practice, Volume 9, Issue 4, December, 2015, pp.33-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: November 23, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.070MB)).

Dr. James Self

Assistant Professor, School of Design and Human Engineering, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, Ulsan, Ulju-gun, South Korea

Seong-geun Lee

Research Assistant, School of Design and Human Engineering, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, Ulsan, South Korea

Hyeonseok Bang

Research Assistant, School of Design and Human Engineering, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, Ulsan, South Korea