An exploration of design synthesis

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Building on the contributions of existing works in the area of design ontology, this paper presents a hypothetical model of design synthesis which depicts design activities, design outputs and two modes of thought in design. The model is used as a basis upon which to explore design synthesis at multiple levels of cognitive granularity. Studies of conceptual design cognition lend support to a distinction between the creation of design elements and their composition. Additional studies of cognitive processing are reviewed and summarised in order to identify cognitive processes which might be involved in design composition. The review highlights several cognitive processes which have yet to be studied in an ecologically valid design context but which could form the basis of a multi-level model of design synthesis.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2017
EventICED17, 21st International Conference on Engineering Design - The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada., Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 21 Aug 201725 Aug 2017
Conference number: 21


ConferenceICED17, 21st International Conference on Engineering Design
Abbreviated titleICED17
Internet address


  • design ontologies
  • design synthesis
  • design cognition
  • conceptual design

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