Design is a realistic solution to a problem

In an attempt to understand the underlying methods used in the creation of a design, a great deal of research has been undertaken into the nature of the intellectual process used by designers. What is clear is that there is no single method or system used by all designers, nor does any one designer appear to use any single method (Lawson, 1994). A designer uses many methods simultaneously, directed towards solving the problem and arriving at an acceptable solution.

The creative leap is more a process of building a bridging concept between the problem and its solution (Cross, 1996). In an observation of the design process, Cross determined that there was an ‘apposite proposal’ from one member which grew in acceptance by the other participants in the group trying to resolve the design problem. Once the basic proposal had been accepted the whole group swung behind the idea and then put all its efforts into making it work. This is contrary to the more conventional view of designers waiting for the blinding flash of originality, although the apposite proposal has to be derived from somewhere. But even this was the result of an evolutionary process.

The strategy that appears to be used most consistently is one that focuses on identifying several possible solutions or hypotheses. These ‘protomodels’ (March, 1976) are evaluated and each evaluation is used to refine the proposed solution until an acceptable answer is reached. For this to be effective the problem must be clearly stated.
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