Design Creation of Artifacts in Society

Topics: Design, Problem solving, Graphic design Pages: 130 (43176 words) Published: March 13, 2013
Published by the University of Pennsylvania. Copyright © 2005–2011 by Karl T. Ulrich This work may be reproduced free of charge under a Creative Commons license so long as (1) the reproduced excerpt is at least one complete chapter in length, (2) full citation is made of the complete book, and (3) no charge other than the actual cost of reproduction is passed along to end users. Edition 1.0 PDF version formatted for 8 ½ by 11 printing Other formats available at

ISBN 978-0-9836487-0-3 Written, designed, illustrated, and photographed by Karl T. Ulrich, except where noted. Cover Photo: Glen Mullaly (collection of spindle adapters for 45 rpm records)

creation of artifacts in society

Karl T. Ulrich

Preface 1. Introduction to Design 2. Problem Solving and Design 3. Design Problem Definition 4. Exploration 5. Users, Experts, and Institutions in Design 6. The Architecture of Artifacts 7. Aesthetics in Design 8. Variety 9. Conclusion Acknowledgments About the Author Colophon



As a freshman entering MIT I intended to be a physician, but early in my first year I made new friends who were taking mechanical design courses. They were always carrying around bags of interesting components and displaying metal parts they had made in the machine shop. I was bitten early by the design bug and took all the courses I could on the subject. My identity as designer was solidified in 1979 as a winner of the MIT “2.70” design contest (now 2.007), an outcome that gave me near celebrity status in the hacker-designer crowd at MIT. I was fortunate to have as professors Ernesto Blanco, Woodie Flowers, David Jansson, Warren Seering, and others who were deeply committed to design education.

Karl Ulrich, age 19, winning the MIT “2.70” design contest. Source: MIT.

I did my doctoral work in the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, focusing on fundamentals of design theory and machine learning, and developed a whole new perspective on problem solving and design from Randy Davis, Marvin Minsky, Patrick Winston, and many other really interesting students and faculty in that lab. The AI Lab also had the best shop on campus, so after hours I designed and built cool stuff like a recumbent bicycle. In the 25 years since I was a student at MIT, I’ve been lucky to lead a professional life that blends teaching design, doing design, and researching design, a luxury afforded by the culture of the Wharton School and the University of Pennsylvania. My roots are in engineering design, and much of my professional life has been centered on product design. However, in the past 15 years, stints as an entrepreneur and a university administrator have broadened my conception of design to include the creation of services, businesses, and organizations. I intend for this book to be a synthesis of what I know about design based on the varied perspectives of teacher, researcher, and practicing designer. Narberth Pennsylvania United States




Introduction to Design

Here are some of the human activities characterized as design: Architectural design Automotive design Business design Ceramic and glass design Color design Communication design Engineering design Environmental design Experience design Fashion design Floral design Furniture design Game design Garden design Graphic design Industrial design Information design Instructional design Interaction design Interior design Landscape design Lighting design Machine design Mechanical design News design Packaging design Product design Production design Service design Software design Sound design System design Theatrical design Type design Urban design User experience design User interface design Web design

The word design presents definitional challenges. Designers tend to view their own particular sphere of activity as the universe of the human activity of designing. For example, one of the twelve schools at the University of...
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