Design is also a Recursive Activity

When we iterated in a Design Process, it is actually a refinement activity where one evolution gives way to the next evolution. However when developing a design, especially when the design is complex, a simple iteration does not deal with the myriad of other different factors that could be involved. For example, a choice of a material could change the required draft angle of the wall surface, thereby not allowing one half of a cover to meet another properly. So do you change the material or the form? How would you describe these different levels of design decisions?

Look out for that horizontal grey line! (Click for a larger image.)
Enter the Dubberly Design Office’s creative process where they also consider design as also a recursive activity.

The creative process is not just iterative; it’s also recursive. It plays out “in the large” and “in the small”—in defining the broadest goals and concepts and refining the smallest details. It branches like a tree, and each choice has ramifications, which may not be known in advance. Recursion also suggests a procedure that “calls” or includes itself. Many engineers define the design process as a recursive function: discover > define > design > develop > deploy

This process chart does make sense when you consider the many levels of design considerations a designer has to go through. I also applaud them for this herculean effort, as it is not easy to describe the entire process. While comprehensive, this complex process chart is not for the faint hearted! Do have a look and let me know what you think?

1 Comment
  • Kyle Mong

    July 31, 2012 at 7:40 pm Reply

    Design is simple
    It’s either you have it or you don’t.
    As long as there’s talent, design remains simple as
    problems are solved creatively.
    It become complicated when untalented people starts contributing strategies or directions to look smart and this make the process complicated.

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