Title: Using a multi-context design approach as manifestation of complexity: perceptions and experiences of students in design engineering

Authors: Wouter C. Kersten; J.C. Diehl; Jo M.L. Van Engelen

Addresses: Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Landbergstraat 15, 2628 CE Delft, Netherlands ' Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Landbergstraat 15, 2628 CE Delft, Netherlands ' Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Landbergstraat 15, 2628 CE Delft, Netherlands

Abstract: In recent years, awareness that design students need to be better equipped to deal with complexity has increased. The practical implications for design education are less evident. While students appreciate explicit methods and tools, we argue that they have to learn to work with ambiguity and interconnections as well. We performed research on the differences that advanced design students experience in terms of process and outcome when switching from self-chosen familiar tool-supported design methods to using a less familiar and less prescriptive multi-contextual approach. The latter represents our chosen manifestation of possible real-life complexity in design challenges. The reflections show a diversity of non-parametric patterns. In general, the intentional multi-context approach was appreciated for its positive effect on encouraging creativity and quality of the results. The reflections raise several points of attention when addressing the concept of complexity with design students in education curricula.

Keywords: complexity; design education; reductionism; systematic variation; interconnections; multi-contextual approach; diversity of requirements; patterns; simplification; design for diversity; creativity.

DOI: 10.1504/JDR.2018.099534

Journal of Design Research, 2018 Vol.16 No.3/4, pp.214 - 246

Accepted: 30 Oct 2018
Published online: 24 Apr 2019 *

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