Industrial design processes can be described as human design problem solving, incorporating the acquisition, evaluation, production and transfer of specific knowledge. In this paper, we will describe the connection and interaction between visualization and reasoning during different stages of the design process. Thereby we focus on three early stages of this process: clarifying the task, concepting and designing an overall solution.
This paper provides a rather general description of design processes and more detailed remarks on design knowledge and design actions. It specifically focuses on design concepts as visual key elements in industrial design processes. We will address the importance of externalization and visualization as means for thinking and knowledge generation and transfer in industrial design in general.
The design process is described as an interplay of the parallel and iterative developments of three domains: knowledge, concept and design. In contrast to linear schemes, this paper proposes a design process scheme focusing on iterative circles and parallel processing possibilities. Industrial design knowledge will be described and compared to relevant knowledge in other disciplines, in particular, engineering design knowledge. We will describe the strong link between the designer's individual biographies, design knowledge and the outcome of design processes.
Design concepts will be discussed as extremely compact representations of core characteristics of the artifacts to be designed, serving as a guide to the design process.
Design actions as described in this paper are characterized by the simultaneous occurrence of thought and externalization processes. Different kinds of visualization are discussed in regard of their role in reasoning during industrial design processes.
This paper concludes by sketching two perspectives. One addresses the need for interdisciplinary research on new visualization tools with regard to human reasoning in design processes. The second one gives an impression of how visualization tools and methods of industrial design can supplement other disciplines.