Design as Composition of Tensions

  • Annie Gentes
Part of the Design Research Foundations book series (DERF)


In this chapter, design is considered as a practice of composition of tensions. By laying out materials, ideas, forms, models of communication and activities, designers organize their practice not so much as a sequence of events but more as a field to compose within. Rather than using the metaphor of the project, the author uses the metaphor of the matrix to show how the design project brings together materials in unexpected ways without necessarily following a defined plan. Elaborating on Peirce’s theory of abduction, the composition is seen as a projective abductive practice.


  1. Agamben, G. (2009). What is an apparatus? and other essays (trad: Par David Kishik et Stefan Pedatella). Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Akrich, M. (1990). De la sociologie des techniques à une sociologie des usages. Techniques & Culture, 16, 83–110.Google Scholar
  3. Alberti, L. B. (2013). On painting. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Aristotle. (1999). Nicomachean ethics (2nd ed.). Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.Google Scholar
  5. Armogathe, J., et al. (2001, Folio). La Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes : 17e-18e siècles, Reprint.Google Scholar
  6. Artaud, A. (1994). The theater and its double (trad: Par Mary Caroline Richards). New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  7. Aumont, J., and Marie, M. (2004). L’analyse des films (2e éd.). Paris: Armand Colin.Google Scholar
  8. Aumont, J., et al. (1992). Aesthetics of film. Austin: University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
  9. Barthes, R. (2012). Mythologies. The complete edition (trans: Howard, R., & Lavers, A.). Hill and Wang.Google Scholar
  10. Bilda, Z., Gero, J. S., & Purcell, T. (2006). To sketch or not to sketch? That is the question. Design Studies, 27(5), 587–613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Blandin, B. (2004). La relation pédagogique à distance, que nous apprend Goffman? Distance et savoirs, 2(2/3), 357–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Buxton, B. (2007). Sketching user experiences: Getting the design right and the right design. Amsterdam: Morgan Kaufmann.Google Scholar
  13. Catellin, S. (2004). L’abduction: une pratique de la découverte scientifique et littéraire. HERMÈS, 39, 179–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Chow, R., & Jonas, W. (2010). Case transfer: A design approach by artifacts and projection. Design issue, 6(4), 9–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cuff, D. (1992). Architecture: The story of practice. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. de Grazia, V., & Furlough, E. (Eds.). (1996). The Sex of Things: Gender and Consumption in Historical Perspective. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  17. de Meredieu, F. (2005). Digital and Video Art. Edinburgh: Chambers.Google Scholar
  18. Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia (trad: Par Brian Massumi 1 ed.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  19. Doane, M. A. (2003). The close-up: Scale and detail in the cinema. Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 14(3, Fall), 89–111.Google Scholar
  20. Dow, S. P. (2010, December 1). Parallel prototyping leads to better design results, more divergence, and increased self-efficacy. TOCHI1704–18 ACM-TRANSACTION, 17(4), 1–24.Google Scholar
  21. Dow, S. P., et al. (1 décembre 2010). Parallel prototyping leads to better design results, more divergence, and increased self-efficacy », ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 17(4), 1–24. doi:
  22. Eco, U., & Paci, C. (1983). The scandal of metaphor: Metaphorology and semiotics. Poetics Today, 4(2), 217–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Eco, U., & Sebeok, T. A. (Éds.). (1988) The Sign of Three: Dupin, Holmes, Peirce (1 ed.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Eilouti, B. H. (2009, juillet). Design knowledge recycling using precedent-based analysis and synthesis models, Design Studies, 30(4), 340–368. doi:10.1016/j.destud.2009.03.001Google Scholar
  25. Eluard, P. (1966). Capitale de la Douleur suivi de L’amour la Poésie (Gallimard French).Google Scholar
  26. Feuillie, N. (2002). Fluxus dixit. : Volume 1, Une anthologie. Dijon: Les Presses du réel.Google Scholar
  27. Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972–1977, éd. par Colin Gordon, 1st American Ed edition (pp. 194–195). New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  28. Freud, S. (1997). The interpretation of dreams. Ware: Wordsworth Classics of World Literature.Google Scholar
  29. Genette, G. (1979). Introduction à l’architexte. Paris: Seuil.Google Scholar
  30. Gentès, A., & Béjean, M. (2011, October). Making sense of constellations of objects: A case study of computer-aided writing practices in theatrical staging. In Proceedings of the IASDR (International association of societies of design research), 4th conference, Delft.Google Scholar
  31. Gentès, A., & Cambone, M. (2013). Designing empathy: The role of a “control room” in an e-learning environment. Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 10(1), 31–48. Scholar
  32. Gentes, A., Valentin, F., & Brulé, E. (2015). Mood boards as a tool for the “in-discipline” of design. In IASDR,
  33. Goldschmidt, G. (1994). On visual design thinking: The vis kids of architecture. Design Studies, 15(4), 158–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Harrowitz, N. (1984). The Body of the Detective Model: Charles S. Peirce and Edgar Allan Poe. In Eco et Sebeok, The sign of three (pp. 179–197).Google Scholar
  35. Hatchuel, A., et Weil, B. (mars 2002). C-K theory: Notions and applications of a unified design theory. In Proceedings of the Herbert Simon International Conference on « Design Sciences ».Google Scholar
  36. Hatchuel, A., Weil, B., & Collectif. (2014). Les nouveaux régimes de la conception : Langages, théories, métiers. Paris: Editions Hermann.Google Scholar
  37. Hockney, D. (2006). Secret knowledge: Rediscovering the lost techniques of the old masters. London: Thames & Hudson.Google Scholar
  38. Holmberg, B. (1995). Theory and practice of distance education (2nd ed.). London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  39. Huyghe, P.-D. (2009). Commencer à deux : Propos sur l’architecture comme méthode. Paris: Editions MIX.Google Scholar
  40. Ingold, T. (2010). The textility of making. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 34(1), 91–102.doi: .Google Scholar
  41. Jacquinot, G. (1993). Apprivoiser la distance et supprimer l’absence? ou les défis de la formation à distance. Revue Française de Pédagogie, 102, 55–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Jeanneret, Y., & Souchier, E. (1999). Pour une poétique de l’écrit d’écran. Xoana, 6–7, 97–107.Google Scholar
  43. Kavakli, M., & Gero, J. S. (2001). Sketching as mental imagery processing. Design Studies, 22(7), 347–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kelley, T. (2002). The art of innovation. New York: Broadway Business Books.Google Scholar
  45. Klee, P. (1966). Paul Klee on modern art (Reprint ed.). London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
  46. Knappett, C., & Malafouris, L. (Eds.). (2008). Material agency: Towards a non-anthropocentric approach. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  47. Krippendorff, K. (1989) On the essential contexts of artifacts or on the proposition that “design is making sens (of things), Design Issues, 5(2), 9–39.Google Scholar
  48. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  49. Latour, B. (1999). Pandora’s hope: Essays on the reality of science studies (1re éd, p. 47). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Latour, B., & Weibel, P. (Eds.). (2005). Making things public: Atmospheres of democracy (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA/Karlsruhe: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  51. Laurel, B. (1993). Computers as theatre. Boston: Addison-Wesley Professional.Google Scholar
  52. Leupen, B et al. (1997). Design and analysis (1re éd.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  53. Moore, M., & Kearsley, G. (2011). Distance education: A systems view of online learning. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing.Google Scholar
  54. Nelson, H. G., & Stolterman, E. (2012). The design way: Intentional change in an unpredictable world (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA/London: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  55. Oudard, J.-P. (1969). Cinema and suture. In N. Browne, & J. Hillier, (Eds.), (1989) Cahiers du Cinema 1969–1972. The politics of representation (Vol. 3, pp. 45–57). Boston: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Oxman, E. R. (1994). Precedents in design: A computational model for the organization of precedent knowledge. Design Studies, 15(2), 141–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Panofsky, E. (1969). L’oeuvre d’art et ses significations. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  58. Rastier, J. (2002). Enjeux épistémologiques de la linguistique de corpus. InJournées de Linguistique de Corpus. available Scholar
  59. Roozenburg, N. F. M. (1993). On the pattern of reasoning in innovative design. Design Studies, 14, 4–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rosenberg, R. (2008). Le schéma de composition, outil et symptôme de la conception du tableau. In La Documentation Française, Histoire de l’art en France au XIXe siècle (pp. 419–431). Paris: Roland Retch et al., s. d.Google Scholar
  61. Saper, C. J. (2001). Networked art (1st ed.). Minneapolis: Univ Of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  62. Sass, L., & Oxman, R. (2006, mai). Materializing design: The implications of rapid prototyping in digital design, Design Studies, 27(3), 325–355, doi:
  63. Schon, D. A. (1984) The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action (1re éd., p. 79). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  64. Schön, D. (1992, March). Designing as reflective conversation with the materials of a design situation. Research and Engineering Design, 5(1, Springer), 3–14.Google Scholar
  65. Schön, D. A., & Wiggins, G. (1992). Kinds of seeing and their functions in designing. Design Studies, 13(4), 135–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Schurz, G. (2008). Patterns of abduction. Synthese, 164, 201–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Shank, G. (2001). It’s logic in practice, my dear Watson: An imaginary memoir from beyond the grave. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 2.
  68. Sowa, J. F., & Majumdar, A. K. (2003, Springer). Analogical reasoning in International Conference on Conceptual Structures (pp. 16–36).
  69. Stahl, G., Koschmann, T., & Suthers, D. (2006). Computer-supported collaborative learning: an historical perspective. In R. K. Sawyer (Ed.), Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 409–426). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  70. Tufte, E. R. (2006). The cognitive style of powerpoint: Pitching out corrupts within (2e éd.). Cheshire: Graphics Press.Google Scholar
  71. Tulving, E., & Thomson, D. (1973). Encoding specificity and retrieval processes in episodic memory. Psychological Review, 80(5), 352–373.Google Scholar
  72. Unwin, S. (2009). Analysing architecture (3e éd.). London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  73. Visser, W. (2006). Designing as construction of representations: A dynamic viewpoint in cognitive design research. Human–Computer Interaction, 21(1), 103–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Vitruve. (1995). Les 10 livres d’architecture de Vitruve (2e éd.). et augm (Editions Mardaga).Google Scholar
  75. Wisser, W. (2006). Designing as construction of representations: A dynamic viewpoint in cognitive design research. Human Computer Interaction, 21(1), 103–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annie Gentes
    • 1
  1. 1.Codesign Lab, I3Telecom ParisTechParisFrance

Personalised recommendations