- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 22 Mar 2021
Design process essentials
Design refers to the art of making a drawing or pattern to illustrate how something is made. A design concept means a general abstract notion, principle or central idea relating to a certain range of things. It is the underlying or generating thought, idea, philosophy, method or process for a design proposal, scheme or process.
Many designers believe that the output of a design is the symbolic representation of an artefact for implementation. The final product should include a design space, a body of knowledge about the artefact, its environment, its intended use and the decisions that triggered the creation of the design.
The general attribute or characteristic of all design processes is the intention to devise a plan or prototype. The need or intention is the basic element of all designs as they relate to the problem that needs to be solved.
Design can be understood as the projection of what is proposed before it is produced. It is also the production of a model to support further work before it's completed. Design alternatives and representations help to provide conceptualisation and comparative design decisions.
However, in the presentation of design alternatives and justification of certain decisions, it is essential that knowledge of how the designer arrived at such conclusions should also be presented. This will help to expand an understanding of the design and provide background knowledge for future design works.
It is wholly agreed amongst designers and design researcher that design activity is transformational; it constantly changes to accommodate the needs and requirements established. The restructuring of the design in different stages provides a chance for designers to achieve a preferred situation.
 Creation of new ideas
The activity of idea production is haphazard; it is random and unsystematic. There are generally two approaches to producing new ideas either by abstraction or by elaboration.
Abstraction refers to producing ideas through generalisations that are applied to an object. It is a mental representation of a process by which an individual constructs such as abstraction.
Elaboration is the process of further expanding the idea or abstraction using key details that also explain or develop the initial idea. Elaboration means developing the specifics of a design through the application of greater details.
 Design problem solving and decision making
Design can also be looked at a as problem solving activity or an endeavour that seeks to lead to decisions or conclusions. In any design work there is the possibility of error if the solutions do not accurately relate to the problems.
When design problems are poorly structured, it causes complexity and makes it more difficult to determine the pertinent constraints and requirements. Decision making through comparative analysis seeks to make a comparison between a series of design alternatives throughout the process.
 Identifying constraints
Due to complexity of design problems, there are a great number of solutions that can be given to the same design problem. The quality of solutions can be assessed and compared to find a more optimal solution.
The evaluation of different design solutions activates a sense testing, modifying and redesigning. This demonstrates the evolutionary nature of design processes. The evolution of design activity helps to consolidate the constraints and requirements identified in a particular design problem.
For more detailed insight into this topic, see the article entitled Building design process.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
LETI publishes guidance for energy efficient home retrofits.
Predictions about adequate post-pandemic IAQ in non-domestic buildings.
Government publishes plans to 'build back greener'.
The contentious nature of claims associated with cladding, fire safety and EWS1 forms.
ECA comments on low-carbon heating systems initiative and Heat and Buildings Strategy.
Cinders and other forms of domestic rubbish created filth but also generated great wealth.
CIC 2050 Group requests input to find out priorities for future industry leaders.
IHBC publishes response to consultation.
Institute applauds funding initiatives but presses for additional retrofit and tax measures.