The Open UniversitySkip to content

Complexity models in design

Earl, C.; Eckert, C. and Johnson, J. (2004). Complexity models in design. In: Design 2004 (Proceedings of the 8th International Design Conference) (Marjanovic, D. ed.), Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture, Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia, pp. 163–168.

Full text available as:
PDF (Not Set) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (44kB)
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Complexity is a widely used term; it has many formal and informal meanings. Several formal models of complexity can be applied to designs and design processes. The aim of the paper is to examine the relation between complexity and design. This argument runs in two ways. First designing provides insights into how to respond to complex systems – how to manage, plan and control them. Second, the overwhelming complexity of many design projects lead us to examine how better understanding of complexity science can lead to improved designs and processes. This is the focus of this paper. We start with an outline of some observations on where complexity arises in design, followed by a brief discussion of the development of scientific and formal conceptions of complexity. We indicate how these can help in understanding design processes and improving designs.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item
ISBN: 953-6313-59-6, 978-953-6313-59-4
Keywords: Complexity; design process; systems design
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Engineering and Innovation
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Research Group: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
Design and Innovation
Item ID: 7420
Depositing User: Christopher Earl
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2007
Last Modified: 08 May 2019 14:08
Share this page:

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU