Natural intelligence in design

Cross, Nigel (1999). Natural intelligence in design. Design Studies, 20(1) pp. 25–39.



The ability to design is widespread amongst all people, but some people appear to be better designers than others. This paper addresses what we know about this ‘natural intelligence’ of design ability, and the nature of design activity. Quotations and comments from some acknowledged expert designers are used to reinforce general findings about the nature of design activity that have come from recent design research. The role of sketching in design is used to exemplify some of the complexity of designing. In conclusion, comments are made about the value and relevance of research into artificial intelligence (AI) in design. It is suggested that one aim of research in AI in design should be to help inform understanding of the natural intelligence of design ability.

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