Abstract

Ideally, designers move past existing ideas to create novel designs. But designers often experience “fixation,” where new ideas are similar to existing designs. An example concept in a brief, or early attachment to one’s initial ideas, can limit the range of designs considered. This research study explored the use of “Design Heuristics,” to overcome fixation in a design education setting. Design Heuristics are a set of prompts intended to point designers toward different types of concepts. The 77 prompts are derived from empirical studies of designers, and have been shown to be effective in developing design capability. In the study, novice engineering design students first used brainstorming, and continued to generate more ideas using Design Heuristics. The results showed that ideas created during brainstorming were more similar to initial ideas. Concepts created with Design Heuristics were judged less similar and more creative. This suggests fixation on initial examples can be mitigated by using tools like Design Heuristics during design, which contributes to how educators can help students develop ideation skills.

Keywords:

design heuristics; fixation; idea generation; brainstorming

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Share

COinS
 
Jun 25th, 12:00 AM

Overcoming Design Fixation in Idea Generation

Ideally, designers move past existing ideas to create novel designs. But designers often experience “fixation,” where new ideas are similar to existing designs. An example concept in a brief, or early attachment to one’s initial ideas, can limit the range of designs considered. This research study explored the use of “Design Heuristics,” to overcome fixation in a design education setting. Design Heuristics are a set of prompts intended to point designers toward different types of concepts. The 77 prompts are derived from empirical studies of designers, and have been shown to be effective in developing design capability. In the study, novice engineering design students first used brainstorming, and continued to generate more ideas using Design Heuristics. The results showed that ideas created during brainstorming were more similar to initial ideas. Concepts created with Design Heuristics were judged less similar and more creative. This suggests fixation on initial examples can be mitigated by using tools like Design Heuristics during design, which contributes to how educators can help students develop ideation skills.

 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.