Introduction to Lean Design
Design has different meanings. It can be an object
or a plan.
Design as an object can have a cultural meaning: A Charles Eames chair
is called design. An Ikea Billy bookshelf is a perfect design without
a cultural meaning. Design as an object is the end of a process. The built
environment is partly the result of a design process. Some elements, such
as equipment and interior decoration have a short life cycle, with characteristics
of a consumer product: they depreciate. Medium long term elements such
as the base building slowly appreciate in value, if maintained well. Long
term aspects such as the urban fabric ('location') have unpredictable
influences on the value of real estate.
A ship design or a building design is a plan and it is the start of a
Design is also an activity. It is a strategy to solve problems. As a strategy
it explores and finds sololutions in terrains that are invisible to many
other problem solvers.
De Jong (1992) recognizes a partly overlapping desirable, a probable and
a possible future. The egg diagram makes clear that not everything desirable
is possible and some of what we want it is probable. We don’t have
to design the probable future, we already know how it will probably be.
This of course is an alarming prospective if we see how the environment
is being exhausted. De Jong gives it a positive twist. There is more than
the probable future. The impossible future is the domain of science fiction.
And then there is the improbable but possible future. We do not know how
this will be, because we cannot imagine. Still, this is where many desirable
solutions for problems can be found. This domain can only be explored
Design as an activity needs to be learned and is therefore subject of
teaching. Should we train the new Calatrava's, architects who design the
extraordinary or should we train the designers of the ordinary? Every
day's and everybody's environment, as an environment for Billy bookshelves?
Or both? Design schools and their students concentrate on the first. Open
Building supports the latter. John Habraken gives guidelines how to design
the ordinary and have to share design responsibilities rather than being
Prima Donna architects.
Design as an activity precedes the construction phase. How can we during
the design stage create conditions for a lean production process?
Design as an activity is also subject to creating waste. How can we create
value and banish waste in the design process?
This session aims to discuss the above-mentioned questions. Sigmund Aslesen's
contribution focusses on the virtues of modular design in ship building,
Emile Quanjel advocates the idea that designing, consulting and constructing
parties should collaborate from the initiative of the design, in order
to prevent a Babel-like confusion.