"The engineering design process is a formulation of a plan or scheme to assist in creating a product. It is a decision making process in which the basic sciences, mathematics, and engineering sciences are applied to convert resources optimally to meet a stated objective. Among the fundamental elements of the design process are the establishment of objectives and criteria, synthesis, analysis, construction, testing and evaluation."

"The engineering design process is a multi-step process including the research, conceptualization, feasibility assessment, establishing design requirements, preliminary design, detailed design, production planning and tool design, and finally production."

Excuse me while I yawn.

The design process is not necessarily a process at all. Nor is it always an engineered, scientific, mathematical science applied to convert resources optimally to meet a stated objective through the establishment of objectives, synthesis, analysis, construction, testing and evaluation.

Sometimes design simply happens and it's fun.

And fun doesn't require a process.

Start with a piece of paper.

INSTANT SPONTANEOUS DESIGN

"Process, Mr. Porter. What distinguishes our College of Architecture from most others is the way we teach the repeatable and proven Process of Design; hypothesis then synthesis through linear, step by step illustration of datum, testable illustration, mind you, proof if you will, of how our students arrive to the solution," The Assistant Dean pontificated. "We do not teach eureka."

"Excuse me," I yawned.

"So you're telling me that you paint by numbers. You make love based on some book you read. You're telling me that a good design process is mandatory for good design to result. You're sitting there telling me that unless my students illustrate with ten or twenty or thirty pinched-ass two-inch by two-inch 'datum diagrams" that depict how they arrived at their design solutions, that they have no merit? I believe my student's successes speak otherwise."

I never cared about tenure.

I rarely ventured to a faculty meeting.

For twelve years my students walked away with the best designs.

My studio was the always the first to be filled.

And it had very little to do with me.

Because I believe in EUREKA!

And I know from experience that Eureka can be taught.

I taught my students how it is possible to blow past any step-by-step laborious linear thinking process and instantly discover Eureka. I shared how easy it is to arrive at ten or twenty or thirty great solutions, any one of which would meet the objective and solve the problem. I taught my students how to ride a bicycle without first having to labor with training wheels. I stripped my students of the fear of falling down, of getting scraped up. The fear of failure was the only thing disallowed in my studios.

I taught my students how to play.

                                             Archimedes was goofing off in the tub when he realized, all of a sudden, that he could measure the density of the Emperor's gold by the quantity of water it displaced.

"Eureka!", Archie bellowed as he streaked from the bath house home to tell his wife what he had discovered. "I found it!"

I didn't attend any more faculty meetings and kept teaching for another six years. That day with the Assistant Dean arguing about the design process gave birth to what is now called Living Architecture.

 

From that day forward, I focused on loosening up my students and they would play, selecting their favorite eureka from their many discovered eurekas and the students would labor backwards with somewhat mischievous grins, inventing and illustrating in ten or twenty or thirty pinched-ass two-inch by two-inch "datum diagrams" how they got from nothing to eureka.

Nobody asked us anymore why our studio always had the best designs.

P.S. What we teach at the Academy of Living Arts and Architecture is Eurekatonics. Total Coolness Man.

P.S.P.S. I'm not saying that the fundamental elements of the design process can't be done through linear thinking through the establishment of objectives and criteria, synthesis, analysis, construction, testing and evaluation. These things come in handy, especially as you go about building what you've designed. I am saying though, that Eurekatonics is a great way to start things out.

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