Course Title : Theory for Designing Artifacts

Code 10X402
Course Year Master and Doctor Course
Term 2nd term
Class day & Period Wed 5th
Location C3-Lecture Room 4a
Credits 2
Restriction No Restriction
Lecture Form(s) Lecture
Language English
Instructor Tetsuo Sawaragi, Kumiyo Nakakoji

Course Description

The activity of design is fundamentally similar across a wide variety of domains. I use artifact in a broad and atypical sense to describe any product of intentional creation, including physical goods, services, information systems, buildings, landscapes, organizations, and societies. The central theme of this lecture is that a unifying framework informs the human activity of design across all domains. Especially, understanding user needs is a key element of problem definition, and that understanding is usually best developed with interactive and immersive methods. In this lecture, a variety of methodologies for participatory systems approach and an idea of user-experience are provided, and its contributions to the design process are discussed.


Students will be evaluated based on the following criteria, in the order listed. (1) Exercises assigned in class: approx. 20% (2) Final exam: approx. 60% (3) Contributions to classwork (e.g., asking good questions): approx. 20%

Course Goals

This course is aimed at developing the ability to apply methods for identifying problems and interactively analyzing/evaluating systems, based on understanding of the principles of artifact design and on systematic thinking.

Course Topics

Theme Class number of times Description
Introduction 1 We will shed light on the concept of artifacts as something to be put on equal footing with natural objects and examine the history of artifacts in terms of how they were viewed in different ages?namely, artifacts as modes of representation in the ancient world, artifacts as necessities for survival in the middle ages, artifacts as forms of convenience in modern times, and artifacts as a means of perpetuation in the current era.
Artifact function and purpose 3 The effects that artifacts have on the outside world?i.e., other things?are “functions.” Function is the concept of questioning the existence of an artifact, and design is the formulation of functions for achieving an intended purpose. We will discuss the categorization of artifacts in terms of how the “purpose” of artifacts relates to the context in which they are used, and look at the origins of artifacts from the perspective of semiosis.
Artifact design principles 2 To understand an artifact is to know how its internal structure acts on the outside world to realize its function. Today, cybernetics?which has explored the interaction between the physical world and the world of information?is expanding into a concept that encompasses society as well (second-order cybernetics), and concepts have been put forward for actively rethinking how human cognition and decision-making interact with the outside world (ecological approaches, socially distributed cognition, naturalistic decision-making). We will examine artifact design principles based on theories related human activity at the boundary of these externalities.
Artifact design representation and evaluation 3 Design must fulfill its role of enhancing the quality of life through the creation of not only individual artifacts, but also environments and social systems that encompass groups of artifacts and natural objects. We will discuss the path toward expanding the scope of design from physical objects to environments and social systems that include intangible services, including with regard to problem development/representation methods, how to set purposes of design, how to eliminate the ambiguities and conflicts among various goals, searching for alternative design strategies, design evaluation, and principles and methods of consensus-forming among different stakeholders.
User-centered artifact design 2 The quality of designs is something to be evaluated by the user, and hence there must be collaboration between users and designers/producers. Moreover, complex design challenges cannot be resolved by experts of only one discipline; they must be tackled by pooling the design-related knowledge of different domains. We will discuss the concept of user-centered design, design rationale, and international standards of design processes for achieving design that is grounded in the user’s needs/perspective.
Participatory systems approach 2 In order to deal with the design of large-scale, complex artifacts, one must take the approach of systemically structuring problems and basing design on diverse perspectives. We will broadly examine: interactive processes among system designers, users, and computers; methods of structurally modeling problems through repeated dialogue between experts in relative disciplines and computers; and ways of supporting the perceptions, interpretations, and decision-making of designers and users. We will also consider the utility of the participatory systems approach in smooth, effective implementation of system design.
Exercise in participatory systems approach 2 Students will apply the participatory systems approach to a real-world artifact design challenge, and report the results of this exercise.


Lecture notes used in class will be distributed as needed. Refer to “Textbook (supplemental)” below.


1. 吉川弘之 [2007] 人工物観, 横幹, 1(2), 59-65 2. Suh, N.P. [1990] The Principles of Design, Oxford University Press (邦訳:スー(翻訳:畑村洋太郎)「設計の原理? 創造的機械設計論」, 朝倉書店, 1992.) 3. 吉川弘之 [1979] 一般設計学序説, 精密機械45 (8) 20?26, 1979. 4. Vladimir Hubka and W. Ernst Eder [1995] Design Science, Springer 5. Simon,H.[1996] The Sciences of the Artificial Third edition 秋葉元吉、吉原英樹訳[1999]『システムの科学』パーソナルメディア 6. H・A・サイモン[1979] 稲葉元吉・倉井武夫訳, 『意思決定の科学』,産業能率大学出版部 7. Hutchins, Edwin [1995] Cognition in the Wild. MIT Press 8. Klein, G., Orasanu, J., Calderwood, R., and Zsambok, C.E. [1993] Decision Making in Action: Models and Methods. Ablex Publishing Co., Norwood, NJ. 9. D・ノーマン[1986] The Design of Everyday Things, 野島久雄訳『誰のためのデザイン?:認知科学者のデザイン原論』、新曜社 10. 椹木、河村[1981]:参加型システムズ・アプローチ―手法と応用、日刊工業新聞社ほか


Independent Study Outside of Class

Web Sites

Additional Information

Office hours will be held for one hour before and after each class period (preferably 5th period on Tuesdays, but also 3rd period on Wednesdays). Appointments for other times can be requested by e-mail.