Title: Decision making in the conceptual design phases: a comparative study

Authors: Rita A. Almendra, Henri Christiaans

Addresses: Faculty of Architecture, Department of Art and Design, Technical University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal. ' Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Department of Industrial Design, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Abstract: This paper presents a comparative study of the design processes of final-year industrial design students of two countries, the Netherlands and the Portugal, while conducting an individual design task. This task was identical for both groups making this comparison possible although the studies are 15 years apart. This new study gave us opportunity to observe new aspects initially not focused upon. The operational aims of this study are the identification and comparison of the way senior design students in both groups take decisions, the relation with design moves along the process, and the factors influencing the decisions and moves. For that purpose both verbal protocol analysis studies (VPA) were analysed on the basis of activities and decision-making moments described in terms of reasons behind it and goals intended to be achieved through it. The results indicate the relevance of two aspects: (1) the abductive reasoning that supports designing gains visibility through analysis based on decision making, where idea generation plays a key role and (2) the notion of design as a decision-making process could bridge, in a meaningful way, design education and design practice in organisations.

Keywords: design process; VPA; verbal protocol analysis; decision making; conceptual design; industrial design; The Netherlands; Portugal; design education.

DOI: 10.1504/JDR.2009.030997

Journal of Design Research, 2009 Vol.8 No.1, pp.1 - 22

Available online: 16 Jan 2010 *

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