Vol. 13 No. 3 (2016): Volume: 13 - Issue: 3

Variations in design process: A case study about tool and task as design variants

Betül Orbey
Department of Architecture, Faculty of Fine Arts and Design, Doğuş University, Istanbul, Turkey
Sinan Mert Şener
Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey

Published 2016-12-09


  • Design tool,
  • Design process,
  • Design variant,
  • Tool cognition

How to Cite

Orbey, B., & Mert Şener, S. (2016). Variations in design process: A case study about tool and task as design variants. A|Z ITU JOURNAL OF THE FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE, 13(3), 167–180. https://doi.org/10.5505/itujfa.2016.80148


Several researchers question the nature of design. Although design has specific characteristics that distinguish it from other cognitive activities, it also takes on different forms depending on the main factors of the design setting.To test this idea, this study has adopted design tools and tasks as the factors that change a design situation. In order to do that, a case study with one graduate student enrolled in Design Computing Program at Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul is conducted. The case is composed of four design sessions, each consisting of a unique combination of a tool and task.The analysis of the protocol aims to show how the different phases of a design process come together in different weights when working on the task depending on the problem given and the tool adopted.This study can be framed as adopting an activity based model where the actions of the participant are in a problem-oriented setting that requires re-production before re-iteration and are assessed through an analytical approach of coding activity in order to understand the impact of the design tool as a variant of the process.The results suggest that tools have a diverging effect on the process as they require different operational methods. On the other hand, the nature of design tasks converge designer's thoughts into a predictable pattern. The combination of the divergence and the convergence yields a spectrum of unique design situations.