References in the design process milieu

M. Strickfaden, P.A. Rodgers

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores everyday references made during the design of artefacts, but more specifically, the social and cultural affects on designing. This is achieved via ethnographically oriented studies based within the context of two design studios on different continents. The term reference is used here to describe the mode of communication that contains information about the artefact, the creator and the context. Language references are described here as the words and phrases that carry literal meanings that involve clear-cut relationships with the artefacts being created [1]. Along with references being represented through words and phrases, references in design may also be presented in the form of images (e.g., photographs, sketches). Goldschmidt [2] defines references to include the precedents that designers openly reveal to have inspired them along with the points of departure that are not known as precedents. Therefore, the research reported herein acknowledges that references may or may not directly link to the artefact being created, and that the use of everyday references while designing can often be fleeting and ambiguous. This paper summarises and begins to categorise references made by introducing a model termed the 'design process milieu'. This model is a result of two in-depth pilot studies and the two field studies reported here. The design process milieu model acts to provide an alternative framework to understand the multiple levels inherent in any design environment. This model is based on well-known theories within the social sciences, which identifies four key environments, the local and universal, emic (inside) and etic (outside) [3]. By exploring references within an interconnected system a number of interesting aspects are revealed about how the sociocultural context may affect the design process.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007
Event16th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2007 - Paris, France
Duration: 28 Jul 200731 Jul 2007


Conference16th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2007


  • design
  • product design
  • design education


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