Design of Design Tools: The creation of tools as a part of a personal theory-building process

Tero Juhani Heikkinen


This article is a first-hand account of creating one’s own design tools in an art and design context. This practice-led research project investigates the intertwining of a design drawing process and the making of a software artifact for sketching spatial form out of tiles. This approach is compared with other practice-led research into design tools. The premises of the software, which emerge from design drawing, are explained as a part of the author's process of building a personal theory of space. These premises become materialized in the design tool artifact, which again in turn brings new elements to the design drawing process. A concept of generative strategy explains the way material design tools play an important part in core design activity, and not just as assisting devices. To complement the study, other designers and artists made outcomes with variants of the tool. These are examined to further dissect the tool and find evidence of the strategies in play. The overall outcome is a demonstration of one way a designer can develop understanding of computer-based and material design tools in design activity.


design tools, design representations

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