Shape exploration in product design : assisting transformation in pictorial representations
The sketching of pictorial representations forms a key technique for professional
designers in the generation and exploration of product shape. It allows ideas of
shape to be externalised and communicated, but more importantly, sketched
pictorial representations can operate to assist designers' creative thinking. While
computer aided design tools have a proven capability to support the development
of design ideas, there is still much scope to develop computer based tools that
support the free-flowing exploratory thinking that characterises shape generation
and shape exploration in product design. Far from being a straight-jacket in
creative design, shape rules have significant potential to bridge the gap between
traditional sketching techniques and modern computational methods of design.
This thesis presents an inquiry into the exploitation of shape rules within product
design. It includes studies of design sketches by professional designers and these
inform the development of a theoretical model for assisting design transformation.
A formal model of exploration is proposed with two mechanisms; shape
decomposition and shape transformation. This model is applied using pictorial
representations which may be seen as the computing equivalent of freehand
sketches, and reveals new strategies for systematic shape generation and
exploration in product design.