Beyond models and decisions: Situating design through generative functions

Armand Hatchuel, Yoram Reich, Pascal Le Masson*, Benoît Weil, Akin Kazakçi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


This paper aims to situate Design by comparison to scientific modeling and optimal Decision. We introduce "generative functions" characterizing each of these activities. We formulate inputs, outputs and specific conditions of the generative functions corresponding to modeling (Gm), Optimization (Go) and Design (Gd): Gd follows the classic view of modeling as a reduction of observed anomalies in knowledge by assuming the existence of unknown objects that may be observed and described with consistency and completeness. Go is possible when free parameters appear in models. Gd bears on recent Design theory, which shows that design begins with unknown yet not observable objects to which desired properties are assigned and have to be achieved by design. On this basis we establish that: i) modeling is a special case of Design; ii) the definition of design can be extended to the simultaneous generation of objects (as artifacts) and knowledge. Hence, the unity and variety of design can be explained, and we establish Design as a highly general generative function that is central to both science and decision. Such findings have several implications for research and education.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design
Subtitle of host publicationDesign for Harmonies, ICED 2013
Number of pages10
Volume2 DS75-02
StatePublished - 2013
Event19th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2013 - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 19 Aug 201322 Aug 2013


Conference19th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2013
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of


  • Decision
  • Design theory
  • Generative function
  • Optimization
  • Scientific modeling


Dive into the research topics of 'Beyond models and decisions: Situating design through generative functions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this