Computer Aided Design as an Idea and Concept Generation Tool in the Early Stages of the Design Process

DS 71: Proceedings of NordDesign 2012, the 9th NordDesign conference, Aarlborg University, Denmark. 22-24.08.2012

Year: 2012
Editor: Assoc. Prof. Poul Kyvsgaard Hansen, Professor John Rasmussen, Assoc. Prof. Kaj A. Jřrgensen, Assoc. Prof. Christian Tollestrup
Author: Liem, Andre
Series: NordDESIGN
Institution: 1: Aalborg University, Denmark; 2: Design Society, United Kingdom
ISBN: 978-87-91831-51-5


This article claims that in certain circumstances digital visual representations (CAD) can facilitate a better understanding of the form than sketches and drawings, in the early creative idea and concept generation stages of the design process. Hereby, intensive reflective and processual visualization activities, which immediately renders feedback in computer media influences the designer to generate images more frequently and more precisely in his/her mind, compared to conventional media. The above phenomenon has led to discussions around two factors, which redefine the value of CAD in an educational context. These factors are: (1) Type of students admitted according to academic inclination, (2) Type of Design Program. Results have shown that students, who were admitted based only upon good grades, were generally poor in (manual) sketching and drawing. However, due to their solid academic capabilities, they demonstrated a strong aptitude towards learning different CAD systems. When merging these students’ CAD with their analytical and creative thinking skills, it has been observed that communication and interactions among educators and students in the early stages of the idea development and concept generation stages were more descriptive and at crucial stages supported by surprisingly well developed CAD drawings / models. It is also evident that explicit iteration and gradual development of ideas and concepts supported by sketches were less prominent. Concerning the type of design program, Industrial Design Engineering type of schools, who advocate a structured problem solving design process, based on Analysis – Synthesis, tend to also support the early implementation of CAD in their processes.

Keywords: Digital Design Representation, CAD Tools, Conventional Representation, Design Education


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