Pieter Vermaas Research and Publications



Design for values

Design research

Functions and philosophy

Functions and engineering

Functions and applied ontology

Quantum mechanics

Design research publications

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Current research focusses on design methods for innovative product design, sometimes referred to as designing thinking. These methods may be formulated on the basis of best practices by design experts, and are presented as means for others to create as innovative results by design as these experts. Actual design practices provide evidence that these design methods indeed are such means, which requires explanation and validation given that logically there is no guarantee that non-expert designers who copy the way in which experts work, will create designs that are as innovative as those that the experts produced. Design methods are moreover increasingly proposed as general procedures to address problems and challenges: they are seen as means to arrive at morally and societal responsible innovation within engineering and product development, and outside their traditional application domains they are presented as novel approaches to resolve issues in business, policy and society in general. Again actual practices provide evidence that design methods indeed may serve these additional goals, which again requires explanation and validation before design methods can be adopted for such wide application domains. My research is aimed at analysing design thinking, to develop research methods for academia to validate design methods, and to derive tools for industry and society to manage innovative design projects (see the 2013 contribution to the Cambridge Academic Design Management Conference). The 2014 contribution to the An Anthology of Theories and Models of Design volume gives a more general perspective on validation).

Earlier work focusing on engineering design methods concerned an action-theoretical analysis of design, as presented in the 2010 Technical Functions monograph. Designing is by this analysis seen as the development of use plans to realise goals, where these plans includes interactions with entities – typically artefacts, depending how they are defined. This analysis is similar to Herbert Simon's characterisation of designing as devising courses of action aimed at changing situations, and equally too general. For introducing also more specific engineering concepts of design, product designing is in the action-theoretical analysis defined as describing in detail the entities interacted with in use plans. This earlier research was done with Wybo Houkes (Eindhoven University of Technology) and has its origin in the Dual Nature of Technical Artefacts programme (see Home) at Delft University of Technology.

The 2008 Philosophy and Design edited volume brought together state of the art philosophical work on design ranging from architecture to engineering design.

Houkes, W., and P.E. Vermaas (2010) Technical Functions: On the Use and Design of Artefacts, vol. 1 of Philosophy of Engineering and Technology (Dordrecht: Springer).[link]

Vermaas, P.E., P. Kroes, A. Light and S.A. Moore (eds.) (2008) Philosophy and Design: From Engineering to Architecture (Dordrecht: Springer).[link]

Vermaas, P.E. (2016) A Logical Critique of the Expert Position in Design Research: Beyond Expert Justification of Design Methods and Towards Empirical Validation, Design Science 2, e7.[pdf]

Vermaas, P.E. (2016) Towards Precedence that Justifies the Knowledge Claims of Design Methods, The Design Journal. 19, 195–204.[link]

Vermaas, P.E. (2014) The Generic Design Knowledge that Design Research Projects Should Produce, in I. Horváth and Z. Ruzák (eds.) Digital Proceedings of the Tenth International Symposium on Tools and Methods for Competitive Engineering, TMCE 2014, May 19-23, Budapest, Hungary (Delft University of Technology), pp. 1077-1086.[pdf]

Eloy, S., and P.E. Vermaas (2014) Towards Effective City Rejuvenation with ICT: Web-Based Shape Grammar Supported Refurbishment Design, in K. Zreik (ed.) Architecture, City and Information Design EuropIA.14 (Paris: Europia Productions), pp. 129-139.[pdf]

Vermaas, P.E. (2014) Design Theories, Models and Their Testing: On the Scientific Status of Design Research, in A. Chakrabarti and L.T.M. Blessing (eds.) An Anthology of Theories and Models of Design: Philosophy, Approaches and Empirical Explorations, pp. 47-66.[link]

Vermaas, P.E. (2013) On Managing Innovative Design Projects Methodologically: The Case of Framing, in Proceedings of the 2nd Cambridge Academic Design Management Conference, September 4-5, 2013, Cambridge, UK, pp. 549-560.[pdf]

Vermaas, P.E. (2012) On Managing Innovation by Design: Towards SMART Methods, in P. K. Hansen, J. Rasmussen, K. A. Jørgensen and C. Tollestrup (eds.) Proceedings of The Ninth Norddesign Conference, 2012 (Aalborg University), paper no 67.[pdf]

Vermaas, P.E. (2011) Accepting Ambiguity of Engineering Functional Descriptions, in T.J. Howard, K. Mougaard, T.C. McAloone and C.T. Hansen (eds.), Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED11), Copenhagen, Denmark, 15-18 August, 2011, Volume 2 (Design Society), pp. 98-107.[pdf]

Vermaas, P.E. (2011) On Prescribing Expert Designing: A Logical Analysis, in N. Roozenburg, L.-L. Chen and P.J. Stappers (eds.) Diversity and Unity: 4th World Conference on Design Research (IASDR2011), October 31-November 4, 2011, Delft, The Netherlands, paper no 132.[pdf]

Vermaas, P.E. (2010) A Conceptually Ambiguous Future for Engineering Design, in P. Galle (ed.) CEPHAD 2010: The Borderland between Philosophy and Design Research, vol. 2 of Copenhagen Working Papers on Design (Danish Design School Press), pp. 59-64.[pdf]

Kroes, P., A. Light, S.A. Moore and P.E. Vermaas (2008) Design in Engineering and Architecture: Towards an Integrated Philosophical Understanding, in P.E. Vermaas, P. Kroes, A. Light and S.A. Moore (eds.) Philosophy and Design: From Engineering to Architecture (Dordrecht: Springer), pp. 1-17.[pdf]

Vermaas, P.E., and K. Dorst (2007) On the Conceptual Framework of John Gero's FBS-model and the Prescriptive Aims of Design Methodology, Design Studies 28, 133-157.[link]

Houkes, W., and P.E. Vermaas (2006) Planning Behavior: Technical Design as Design of Use Plans, in P.-P. Verbeek and A. Slob (eds.) User Behavior and Technology Development: Shaping Sustainable Relations between Consumers and Technologies, vol. 20 of Eco-Efficiency in Industry and Science (Dordrecht: Springer), pp. 203-210.[pdf]

Vermaas, P.E., W. Houkes and J. de Ridder (2005) A Philosophical Analysis of Designing: Results from the Delft Dual Nature of Technical Artifacts Program, in H.H. Achten, K. Dorst, P.J. Stappers and B. de Vries (eds.) Design Research in the Netherlands 2005: Proceedings of the Symposium Held on 19-20 May 2005, vol. 92 of Bouwstenen (Eindhoven: Technische Universiteit Eindhoven), pp. 13-22.[pdf]

Dorst, K., and P.E. Vermaas (2005) John Gero's Function-Behaviour-Structure Model of Designing: A Critical Analysis, Research in Engineering Design 16, 17-26.[link]

Houkes, W., P.E. Vermaas, K. Dorst and M.J. de Vries (2002) Design and Use as Plans: An Action-Theoretical Account, Design Studies 23, 303-320.[link]