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This book looks at causative reasons behind creative acts and stylistic expressions. It explores how creativity is initiated by design cognition and explains relationships between style and creativity. The book establishes a new cognitive theory of style and creativity in design and provides designers with insights into their own cognitive processes and styles of thinking, supporting a better understanding of the qualities present in their own design.

An explanation of the nature of design cognition begins this work, with a look at how design knowledge is formulated, developed, structured and utilized, and how this utilization triggers style and creativity. The author goes on to review historical studies of style, considering a series of psychological experiments relating to the operational definition, degree, measurement, and creation of style. The work conceptually summarizes the recognition of individual style in products, as well as the creation of such styles as a process before reviewing studies on creativity from various disciplines, presenting case studies and reviewing works by master architects.

Readers will discover how creativity is initiated by design cognition. A summary of the correlations between creativity and style, expressed as a conceptual formula describing the cognitive phenomenon of style and creativity concludes the work. The ideas presented here are applicable to all design fields, allowing designers to comprehend and improve their design processes to produce creative, stylistically unique products.



Chapter 1. Introduction

Design thinking processes have been studied since the 1970s, exploring the intellectual phenomena that occur while designers practice design. These intellectual phenomena include the formation of intelligence, operation of knowledge, and actions taken for implementing design, which are the cognitive activities explored in the field of psychology. Recently, these cognitive activities that occur in design were recognized as a special cognitive domain with special behaviors, named design cognition. Design cognition focuses on the processes and psychological phenomena of how humans understand, process, formulate, generate, store, retrieve, and recycle design related knowledge that leads to the creation of a design. These design processes and cognitive phenomena are not only different from other thinking domains, but are also unique forces that turn design conceptual schemes into physical artifacts. Behind these psychological activities, forces exist that create certain “recognizable features” in design products. These features are recognized through perception to categorize the product as an individual style. Due to the existence of design styles, outstanding design products can easily be recognized by the public as cultural symbols.
Chiu-Shui Chan

Conceptual Framework


Chapter 2. Introduction of Design Cognition

Design is the human conception and planning of virtually everything in the world. All man-made design has as its fundamental essence that everything is driven by certain intentions and is accomplished by a series of actions to generate results. Design is process, artifact, and discipline. As explained in the American Heritage dictionary, to design, seen from the action point of view, is: (1) to conceive or fashion in the mind, invent; (2) to have as a goal or purpose, intend; and (3) to create or contrive for a particular purpose or effect. Synthesizing these definitions into an integrated conceptual framework, design can be described as to conceive a purpose, contrive a goal, and formulate a plan for a purposeful intention in the mind. On the other hand, design seen from the perspective of an entity, is: (1) a drawing or sketch; (2) a graphic representation; (3) a particular plan or method; (4) a reasoned purpose; or (5) a deliberate intention (American Heritage Dictionary 2013). Here, a purpose and an intention are both treated as entities, for they are the products of creative actions. Thus, design is a created object, a generated method, a developed purpose, or a conceived intention for everyday routines conducted through mental efforts. Design should be recognized as an essential part of human life—in fact, a critical component of human intelligence—and, as such, deserves critical discourse.
Chiu-Shui Chan



Chapter 3. Development of Studies in Style

Art” is a field that is highly abstract, conceptual, metaphysical, and difficult to measure. It is a generational result influenced by psychological and cultural phenomena, and usually is probed by philosophers through aesthetics. Aesthetics, on the other hand, is a way of studying the arts and is a branch of philosophy—a philosophy of beauty—that provides a theory of the beautiful and of the fine arts. So, the study of art usually comes along with the study of aesthetics. However, as the study of art became more complex and because of the profound nature of art, scholars and philosophers developed a notion of “style” and used it to help analyze beauty and explore methods of creation, and to distinguish differences between individual artists, groups, and schools.
Chiu-Shui Chan

Chapter 4. Style as Identities in Design Products

Architecture, together with painting, sculpture, music, and poetry, has long been classified in the domain of “Arts” or “Fine Arts” (Greene 1940) and studied within this fine arts domain. For example, architecture has been extensively studied by architectural historians to understand historical developments, and by theorists to explore individual characteristics (Pothorn 1982). Thus, architectural style has been described as the collective characteristics of buildings where structure, unity and expressiveness are combined in an identifiable form related to a particular period or region, sometimes to an individual designer or school of design (Smithies 1981, p. 25). All these notions and approaches attempt to examine the prominent features in forms and to systematically illustrate the underlying cultural, social, economical, and technical relationships among different regions, periods, and designers that are associated with these features.
Chiu-Shui Chan

Chapter 5. Style Approached from the Design Process

Studies of style can be approached from two directions: the end and the means. From the end point of view, a style is a cluster of features present in artifacts; scholars usually classify the features in products to differentiate styles (Newton 1957; Finch 1974; Scott 1980; Smithies 1981; Chan 1994, 2000). Similar approaches used to examine features for further exploring the nature of style, the degree between styles, and the systematic measurement within style were extensively covered in Chap. 3. From the means point of view, a style is a mode by which designers’ personal and professional preferences are expressed, and studies attempt to deliberate the mode of expression to mark styles (Torossian 1937; Evans 1982; Cleaver 1985). Although most style researchers have studied both directions, their efforts cannot provide clear explanations of how a style is generated. That is because not enough research has been devoted to the study of the means used that create a style. This chapter begins to explore, through a case study, the aspects of style creation and the forces that generate a style (Chan 1995, 2001). Studies of style approached from the means point of view conducted in various fields and the factors determining the generation of style are reviewed first.
Chiu-Shui Chan

Chapter 6. Creation of Style in the Design Process

A style could be seen as a cultural sign, a social phenomenon, a product symbol, or a way of doing things coming from some individual or group effort. Apart from examining style from outcomes of intentional purposes, this chapter focuses on how an individual style is shaped in design processes approached from the perspective of design cognition. Particularly, attention is on the schematic design stage, which is considered the most critical stage for a design project to be formulated before its final form is determined and constructed. The purpose is to explore how a style is developed in the design process. Fundamental concepts are based on the supposition that an individual style is identified by a set of common features created by a series of mental processes on managing design information. If products share many common features, then there should be many common processes of using similar information utilized in the process, and the style of the products will be strongly expressed and recognized. Therefore, the numbers of common features in products and similar operational factors in processes determine the degree of style, and a style can be defined and measured by the function of common features and factors.
Chiu-Shui Chan



Chapter 7. Development of Studies in Creativity

Broadly speaking, creativity is the ability to create meaningful new ideas, forms, sounds, methods, performances, and interpretations. It implies that the creator’s mind is non-conformist with the freedom of action. It also is a phenomenon that shows that some people can generate more beautiful, usable, and effective new things and marvelous new ideas than others. Such a phenomenon could be fine-tuned into aspects of invention and innovation, which have been broadly discussed in the field of engineering. Invention is the “creation” of a product or introduction of a process for the first time that has never been made before. Such a product or process is new, novel, and without precedent. For example, the original phonograph created by Thomas Edison in 1877 was a big invention that had not been seen before (see Fig. 7.1).
Chiu-Shui Chan

Style and Creativity


Chapter 8. Creative Processes and Style

Cognition, as introduced in Chap. 1, is the human intelligence process of organizing personal information through the use of human conscious awareness, visual perception, reasoning, and judgment to accomplish everyday tasks. In design fields, designers apply design cognition to organize design information for creating artifacts. Here, design cognition is the ability to manipulate images, utilize rationale, and create three-dimensional forms to generate a product that serves a function. This ability, usually occurring in the design process, is recognized as a phenomenon and pattern of doing things. For example, as shown in Chap. 5, designers consciously utilize some invariant knowledge, rules, mental images, and certain fixed sequences in design processes; certain constant features are also generated and distinguished as the representation of a style. Therefore, patterns of constant utilization of knowledge in design are described as the phenomena of style coming from cognitive operations, and the cognitive mechanisms applied in design provide the incentive for a style. Similarly, creativity is a phenomenon of cognitive operational results that share similar cognitive driving forces. This chapter explains the connection and correlation between the two phenomena of style and creativity from a cognitive perspective.
Chiu-Shui Chan

Chapter 9. Cognitive Theory of Style and Creativity

Life and beauty both play essential roles in our lives. Good designs will have it all—aesthetic pleasure, art, creativity—and at the same time be usable, workable, and enjoyable. There is no need to sacrifice budget costs, function, manufacturing, or sales market to achieve the maximum value of a product. For skillful craftsmen, it is their passion, motivation, and ability to create things that are usable and creative, pleasurable and completely workable. That is why style of beauty and creativity of products are so critical in design, manufacturing, engineering, fashion, and everyday lives.
Chiu-Shui Chan


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