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Call for Papers: Design Constraints

The limits of the thinkable, the makeable, the affordable, the acceptable, the saleable, the defensible, and the communicable define the boundaries of the multidimensional space of possibilities navigated by the design process. An experienced designer will choose the relevant constraints within which he or she will operate, in order to focus on the essential, and to minimize effort wasted on the irrelevant.

Constraints provide the challenges that make the design process invigorating and delineate a realm of free play for the exercise of creativity. Budget, manufacturing processes, cultural norms, societal values and many other factors are sources of contextual constraints on design. Every designer also sets constraints on his or her own designing based on their ethical stance, ideological allegiances and stylistic proclivities.

Constraints abet the design process in providing a delimitation of the realm of possibilities to be explored. They can provide guidelines for what is desirable or relevant to the goals of the design process. Design methods can be derived, and design tools developed, based on a codification of the constraints (both imposed and chosen) within which the design process unfolds.

Constraints can also hinder the design process in limiting designers’ imaginations or ambitions, concealing potential paths and excluding potential solutions before they are even tried out. Radical thought in design methods has always aimed at making unnecessary constraints visible and offering tactics to transcend such arbitrary limitations.

Any design education should give students a conscious awareness of constraints – both beneficial and harmful, chosen and imposed – and provide them with the critical skills to assess the relevance and importance of the constraints and to explore the possibilities presented by the array of constraints that characterize a given design project.

Abstract Submission Due: 4 August Extended 11 August 2013
Abstract Review and Notification: 9 September 2013


Last Update: October 21, 2013