DS 68-2: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 11), Impacting Society through Engineering Design, Vol. 2: Design Theory and Research Methodology, Lyngby/Copenhagen, Denmark, 15.-19.08.2011

Year: 2011
Editor: Culley, S.J.; Hicks, B.J.; McAloone, T.C.; Howard, T.J. & Reich, Y.
Author: Gabelloni, Donata; Apreda, Riccardo; Fantoni, Gualtiero
Series: ICED
Section: Design Theory and Research Methodology
Page(s): 1-12


A critical issue in design theory is the relationship between the abstract functions and purposes of a product and its physical behaviours, structures and features. In the traditional approach systematized by Pahl and Beitz, the main focus is on the functions, seen as actions on flows. While such paradigm proved very useful and has been tested in many practical cases, it shows various limits when dealing with not purely mechanical artefacts, since it overlooks the role of structures and the relationship between the user and the product. On the other hand, there is a family of theoretical frameworks (e.g. Gero’s FBS) that inserts the concept of function in a wider and more sophisticated picture, including the physical features, the designer’s intentions and the user’s perceptions and actions. However those models are often studied only theoretically and present practical cases in short examples, just to illustrate the theory. Such practical applications would also help to resolve ambiguities, clarify the understanding of problematic issues, and even suggest new directions of analysis. The present paper is an attempt to build a bridge between the two approaches.



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