Ekphrasis as a design method

DS 87-7 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 7: Design Theory and Research Methodology, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Gero, John
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: UNC Charlotte, United States of America; 2: George Mason University, United States of America
Section: Design Theory and Research Methodology
Page(s): 171-180
ISBN: 978-1-904670-95-7
ISSN: 2220-4342


Ekphrasis is the expression of a concept that is represented in the medium of one domain in the medium of another domain. This paper presents the results from exploring the concept of ekphrasis as the foundation for a computational design method. It presents a formalization of design by ekphrasis before describing its application in in a simple engineering design task involving the design of the cross-section of a beam to optimize multiple criteria. The new domain is as genes in an evolutionary domain that includes the introduction of new operators within that domain beyond the standard evolutionary operators of crossover and mutation. This generates a space of genomes beyond those that were there at the commencement of the process. Designs, i.e., cross-sections, produced in this new domain not only look different but have performances that are better than the Pareto-optimal designs produced by the original genetic operators. Design by ekphrasis can be considered as a framework for designing that involves transforming any design space in one domain into another design space in a new domain with contingent processes in the new domain.

Keywords: Design methods, Design theory, Creativity


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