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  • The Structure of Design Processes

Archer, L Bruce, 1968, Thesis, The Structure of Design Processes Other thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This document is the doctoral thesis of L Bruce Archer. It is a part of his pioneering attempts in the 1960s to create a science of design - a project he later looked back on with some regret. For a discussion, see "The Structure of Design Processes: ideal and reality in Bruce Archer’s 1968 doctoral thesis" http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/1721/

This version of the thesis document (which is the same as that held by the British Library dissertation service Ethos) is a photocopy that includes hand-corrections and amendments made onto the typescript. It seems to have been prepared as copy for a book: the closing remarks in the document thank "the designer of this book, Brian Grimbly" (one-time art editor of Design magazine). No such book was ever published.

Archer's introduction states:

"This thesis attempts to set up a framework within which the set of skills, sensibilities and intellectual disciplines that, taken together, constitute the art of designing might be logically related so as to form the basis of a science of design. No attempt is made here to distinguish between architectural, engineering and industrial design. Indeed, it is an essential element in the philosophy underlying this thesis that the logical nature of the act of designing is largely independent of the character of the thing designed. By the same token, no attempt is made here to define 'good design'. The argument presented is concerned with the theory of navigating towards a chosen destination rather than with the identity or merit of the destination itself.

"A logical model of the design process is developed, and a terminology and notation is adopted, which is intended to be compatible with the neighbouring disciplines of management science and operational research. Many of the concepts and techniques presented are, indeed, derived from those disciplines. A primary purpose of this work is to provide a conceptual framework and an operational notation within which designers might work and upon which case study analyses might be based.

"The range of techniques and disciplines which might be employed at various stages in the conduct of a design project are referred to only in general terms. Different design problems, and different classes of design activity, call for different techniques and different emphases at various stages. There is no suggestion here that all design should be conducted according to a given formula - only that the logic of any design problem may be better perceived against the background of a common framework.

"In certain instances, the general form of the laws which are thought to connect certain phenomena common to most design problems is indicated. It is hoped that the logical model, terminology and notation presented will facilitate the accumulation of the case study data, and the derivation of the more precise general laws, upon which an emergent science of design must be based."

A note on accuracy
This PDF of the Archer doctoral thesis has been processed for Optical Character Recognition with a reasonable degree of accuracy for the typescript parts. It has not been hand-corrected. The captions and other textual parts of the figures, being in handwriting, have not been processed.

Qualification Name: Other
Subjects: Other > Mathematical and Computer Sciences > G500 Information Systems > G590 Systems Analysis and Design not elsewhere classified
Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W290 Design studies not elsewhere classified
School or Centre: School of Design
Funders: Institute of International Education, New York (Kaufmann International Design Awards)
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2017 21:38
Last Modified: 13 Nov 2017 21:41
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/2949

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