Creating universal form: using universals to describe design solution space

Stuart English

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


This paper builds on English’s earlier work on value-innovation (explored in output 1). This paper however, describes both the nature of ‘design problem space’ and ‘solution space’, within dualistic and monistic philosophical frameworks. It then explores the concept of the ‘Universal’ as a tool with which to frame design parameters. Universals can help designers to optimise their creative engagement with a problem by forcing them to identify what is important and what is not. The paper deals with ‘form’ in a platonic sense i.e. ‘universal form’ that occurs as an abstract perception of mind, allowing the designer to model the particular physical form or interaction. The articulation of ‘universal form’ is explored through a number of case studies involving the co-evolution of problem and solution space. The last and most detailed of these case-studies considers the collaboration between Philips and Northumbria University and is concerned with the cognitive modelling of product personality. (Young, R. Nathan, D. Whitcombe, M. (2006) Productality – Exploring How to Create Perceived Personality in Products. Desform Conference, Eindhoven, October 26-27). Previous studies of expert designers suggest that the ability to ‘frame problems’ is ‘crucial to high level performance in creative design’. English’s research shows however, that design answers are generated as a consequence of the way we think about the problem and … Innovation occurs not by generating ideas but through our awareness of what is possible’. The paper has been accepted for publication by the peer-reviewed international Journal of Design Principles and Practices, 2008
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2007
EventDesignConference 2007 - London
Duration: 4 Jan 2007 → …


ConferenceDesignConference 2007
Period4/01/07 → …


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