References to past designs

Eckert, Claudia; Stacey, Martin and Earl, Christopher (2005). References to past designs. In: Gero, J. S. and Bonnardel, N. eds. Studying Designers '05. Sydney, Australia: Key Centre of Design Computing and Cognition, pp. 3–21.


Designing by adaptation is almost invariably a dominantambiguity feature of designing, and references to past designs are ubiquitous in design discourse. Object references serve as indices into designers' stocks of design concepts, in which memories for concrete embodiments and exemplars are tightly bound to solution principles. Thinking and talking by reference to past designs serves as a way to reduce the overwhelming complexity of complex design tasks by enabling designers to use parsimonious mental representations to which details can be added as needed. However object references can be ambiguous, and import more of the past design than is intended or may be desirable.

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