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3 Models of the design process

3.1 Reprise on models

As discussed in Section 1, models – physical or conceptual – are used extensively in design to give information about what the final product might look like or what its properties will be. This is a way of trying to make the design more understandable during its initial stages. In the same way many people have produced models of the design process itself, to try to understand better the optimum route to producing 'good' designs. In general, models are used to represent things for some purpose. In Section 1, I discussed drawings and constructions as models. One thing all models have in common is that they are incomplete in one or more respects when compared to the thing they represent. Models are used to explore some properties of things; other properties considered to be unimportant for the purpose in hand may be excluded from the model. Thus the weather map seen on television each day is a kind of model. It is not a full and complete picture of the weather; it is a simplified version that enables us to understand the important information quickly. The map of the London Underground is another famous example of a model. Find out more about this famous model by clicking here.

The models that will be considered in this section illuminate various aspects of design. Each has its own advantages, and each has its own shortcomings. We can ask also if these models are useful to designers, and if so, in what ways. This will be discussed at the end of this section.