Perceiving Design as Modelling: A Cybernetic Systems Perspective

  • Anja M. Maier
  • David C. Wynn
  • Thomas J. Howard
  • Mogens Myrup Andreasen


The creation and use of models is central to engineering design, to the extent that designing might be perceived as a propagation from model to model and modelling may be described as the language of the designer (the terms product model and artefact model are used synonymously throughout this chapter). Given this, how should design activities be coordinated and how should the design process be regulated? This chapter suggests that a cybernetic perspective may help to understand designing as a self-regulated modelling system and help to reach a better understanding of the effectiveness of models and modelling as used in design. This perspective emphasises the role of models in progressing the design and design process evolution. In particular, it suggests that most models in design fulfil a synthetic role. For instance, when designers sketch a mechanism, then formalise and analyse it, they are on one level analysing, but stepping back they are synthesising something that did not previously exist. What makes a model a good model thus lies not so much in goodness of fit, meaning how accurately it represents observations made, but rather the degree to which it informs decision-making that turns out to add value for a given purpose and context. Implications of a cybernetic perspective that could guide effective modelling in design are discussed.


Design Process Computational Fluid Dynamic Synthetic Model Engineering Design Process Cybernetic System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish thank the two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions and the following people for stimulating discussions on modelling and models in designing which influenced the thoughts and arguments proposed in this chapter: Tyson Browning, P. John Clarkson, Jaap Daalhuizen, Claudia Eckert, Boris Eisenbart, Kilian Gericke, Khadidja Grebici, Ralf Stetter, Harald Störrle and Ken Wallace.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anja M. Maier
    • 1
  • David C. Wynn
    • 2
  • Thomas J. Howard
    • 1
  • Mogens Myrup Andreasen
    • 1
  1. 1.The Department of Management EngineeringTechnical University of DenmarkLyngbyDenmark
  2. 2.Department of EngineeringUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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