Manipulating design knowledge embedded in drawings
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In Chapter 2 we investigated some aspects of the special nature of design that makes it so interesting to study. One of the features identified, which has particular significance for the arguments in this chapter, is how design is characteristically holistic. A single feature of a good design solution can simultaneously solve many aspects of the problem. Design solutions and problems do not map onto each other in predictable or theoretically describable ways. This means that designers cannot really break down problems in the way classical natural science researchers do. Designers have no way of knowing in advance which aspects of the problem can be integrated into which solution ideas. For this reason the designer seems to have a special way of thinking which is integrative. In fact the predominant style of thinking that design students tend to develop during their courses is one in which they drag issues into a debate and widen the terms of reference rather than one in which they focus and analyse. Of course this is cognitively extremely demanding, since it seems everything must be thought about at once. This means keeping in mind, as it were, many disparate factors, which on the face of it have little or no relation to each other. While they may not appear to be related in the problem, eventually they may be solved by the same idea in the solution. So how do designers perform this mental juggling act?